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Lawsuit of the Week: B.C. metaverse firm claims former consultant won’t return crypto properties

TerraZero Technologies Inc. suing after terminating contract  
The B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver

A B.C. metaverse company is suing a former consultant after he allegedly refused to return its property after terminating his contract. 

Martin Lantaigne and his numbered company 2846869 Ontario Inc. were reportedly contracted by TerraZero Technologies Inc. on March 1, 2022. Court filings claim the deal came with a signing fee of $120,000, while Lantaigne earned $10,000 a month for his consulting services. 

Just under 12 months later, on Feb. 23, 2023, the company terminated the contract because his contributions were “not what was expected or promised,” according to TerraZero’s lawsuit. The company then allegedly demanded Lantaigne return its property, including a laptop and multiple digital wallets. 

TerraZero founder and CEO Daniel Reitzik said in an affidavit that he asked Lantaigne to work with TerraZero as the company was getting off the ground in September 2021. He claimed he bought Lantaigne a notebook computer for $3,573 in in December that year. 

Prior to signing on as a consultant, Lantaigne allegedly told TerraZero he’d been working at IBM Canada Ltd. for $500,000 a year, that he was a “high-performing and well-respected employee” and that he would only leave his position for a lower salary if they provided a signing bonus. 

But TerraZero claimed Lantaigne was, in fact, fired due to “performance issues.” 

The Vancouver-based tech firm owns virtual real estate in the metaverse – a form of virtual reality connected to the internet in which users can explore immersive 3D environments.  

TerraZero owns the virtual real estate on platforms such as Decentraland, the Sandbox Metaverse and Portals. 

According to Reitzik, the company owns several licences to operate as servers for Gala Games, a decentralized gaming platform. Those licences cost the company between US$37,000 and US$84,000 each, according to the CEO, who said they were recently valued closer to US$96,000. 

Since ending the contract with Lantaigne, Reitzik claimed all of TerraZero’s Gala cryptocurrency tokens and Ethereum tokens, valued at around $44,000 as of last month, were transferred to another wallet. The company said it does not know the owner of that wallet. 

The company also owns a wallet, allegedly under Lantaigne’s control, that holds a non-fungible token the company bought for US$140,000 in January 2022, according to Reitzik. 

The laptop bought for Lantaigne’s use is the access point for the Gala account and other accounts, according to the lawsuit, and accessing the accounts from another device would trigger two-factor authentication. Accessing TerraZero’s blockchain wallets are impossible without private keys or passwords known only to Lantaigne, according to Reitzik. 

TerraZero’s lawyers, in emails submitted to the court as an exhibit, allegedly demanded Lantaigne return the company’s property. Lantaigne is claimed to have said in response that he “also want[s] an amicable resolution” but that there needed to be “some brutal transparency” and that the company “should no longer try to mistake [his] kindness for weakness.” 

Lantaigne allegedly demanded a lump sum payout of $750,000 for loss of income. And he later allegedly called for further damages against the company for defamation after Reitzik allegedly reached out to another individual to speak about the conflict. 

TerraZero lawyer David Wotherspoon called Lantaigne’s demand “outrageous” and offered a $50,000 payout in exchange for Lantaigne returning all company property, relinquishing his two million founder shares and entering a settlement agreement, according to the emails. He then urged Lantaigne to seek legal advice. 

Lantaigne allegedly responded only with “Good luck.” 

None of the allegations have been proven in court and Lantaigne has not filed a response in court as of press time.