Lido DAO Faces Class-Action Lawsuit: Unpacking the Allegations and Implications

Lido DAO, the decentralized autonomous organization governing the liquid staking protocol Lido, has found itself amid a class-action lawsuit that could have far-reaching consequences for the DeFi ecosystem. Filed by former LDO holder Andrew Samuels, the lawsuit alleges that Lido’s LDO token is an unregistered security, and it holds Lido DAO responsible for the financial losses incurred by investors due to the token’s price decline.

Lido DAO Faces Class-Action Lawsuit: Unpacking the Allegations and Implications
Lido DAO Faces Class-Action Lawsuit: Unpacking the Allegations and Implications

Overview of Lido Protocol

Lido is a notable protocol in the blockchain ecosystem, providing a platform for users to stake their Ether (ETH) and receive staking rewards. The protocol issues a derivative token known as stETH, offering users flexibility in utilizing their staked assets across various decentralized finance (DeFi) applications. The governance decisions within Lido are handled by the decentralized autonomous organization, Lido DAO, composed of LDO token holders. Lido stands out in the DeFi space, boasting a total value locked of over $19 billion, making it the largest liquid staking derivative in terms of total value locked​​​​​​​​​​.

Details of the Lawsuit

The class-action lawsuit, initiated on December 17, 2023, in a San Francisco United States District Court, centers around Andrew Samuels, a resident of Solano County, California, and former LDO token holder. Samuels contends that the LDO token, governed by Lido DAO, qualifies as an unregistered security under the criteria set by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The lawsuit names several defendants, including Lido DAO, AH Capital Management LLC, Paradigm Operations LP, Dragonfly Digital Management LLC, and Robot Ventures LP. These entities are accused of holding substantial control over LDO tokens, allegedly limiting the influence of regular investors on governance matters​​​​​​.

Core Allegations

At the heart of the lawsuit is Samuels’ assertion that Lido DAO initially functioned as a general partnership led by institutional investors, later transitioning to public token sales as potential exit opportunities emerged. The lawsuit alleges that the persuasion of centralized exchanges to list LDO tokens led to their purchase by Samuels and other investors. Subsequently, a decline in the token’s price resulted in substantial financial losses for these investors.

The complaint leverages a statement from SEC Chair Gary Gensler, suggesting that the LDO token could be classified as a security. Gensler’s statement points to the involvement of a group situated between the tokens and investors, with the public expecting profits from the actions of this intermediary group. This assertion forms the crux of the argument against Lido DAO and associated entities​​​​​​.

Implications for Lido and the DeFi Ecosystem

If the lawsuit progresses successfully, it could have profound implications for Lido DAO and, more broadly, for decentralized finance protocols. The classification of the LDO token as an unregistered security could prompt regulatory scrutiny and potentially influence the governance models of other DeFi projects.

Furthermore, the lawsuit sheds light on the evolving dynamics of token sales, governance structures, and investor protection in the DeFi space. As the SEC continues to grapple with defining the regulatory framework for digital assets, this legal action serves as a notable case study in the intersection of decentralized governance and securities regulations.


The class-action lawsuit against Lido DAO underscores the challenges and complexities associated with decentralized finance projects. As the legal proceedings unfold, the cryptocurrency community and regulatory bodies will closely watch the outcome, as it may set precedents for how decentralized autonomous organizations and their associated tokens are viewed and regulated in the future. This case serves as a reminder of the importance of clarity and transparency in the rapidly evolving world of decentralized finance.

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