Paul Ceglia's efforts to claim the billions of dollars from Facebook he says he is entitled to are starting to put a dent in his bank account.
The New York man, who claims that he has a contract with Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg that entitles him to half of the social-networking giant's fortunes, was ordered today to reimburse Facebook $75,766.70 in attorneys' fees related to the case. The fees, ordered by federal Magistrate Leslie G. Foschio in Buffalo, N.Y., is in addition to the $5,000 contempt sanction Ceglia was ordered to pay last month for delays in making his e-mails available in his case against Facebook.
However, the judge denied Facebook's request for an order preventing Ceglia from filing any additional motions in the case until those fees were paid.
"We have scrupulously followed the court's orders and intend to continue doing so throughout upcoming discovery and the eventual trial of this matter," Ceglia attorney Dean Boland told CNET this evening. "Whether parties agree or disagree, court orders have to be followed and that is what we will continue to do."
Facebook representatives declined to comment.
Facebook had originally sought $84,000 in legal fees, after Foschio ordered Ceglia to reimburse Facebook for its legal bill during the delay in producing the e-mails, an amount Boland called excessive last month.
In his unusually long 39-page ruling (see below), Foschio cites multiple other cases as helping him determine a reasonable amount in legal fees to be awarded Facebook. She noted that the fees, which had already been voluntarily reduced by 25 percent, were justified because the case required Facebook to hire forensic experts to examine the alleged contract.
Ceglia was ordered to hand over his e-mail account and passwords last August. After he failed to do so, Facebook filed a motion requesting an order compelling him to do so. That hearing also revealed that Ceglia's attorney at the time, Jeffrey Lake, was told by Ceglia that he wouldn't comply with the order.
Lake soon withdrew from the case, becoming the latest in a string of attorneys who stopped representing Ceglia since he initially filed a lawsuit against Facebook and Zuckerberg in 2010. Ceglia claims that he and Zuckerberg entered into a contract in 2003 to design and develop the Web site that would ultimately become Facebook.
Ceglia has cited more than a dozen e-mails purportedly between himself and Zuckerberg that detail discussions on design, development, and business plans regarding the development of Facebook. However, Zuckerberg and Facebook have called the alleged Facebook contract a "cut-and-paste job," describing the purported e-mails as "complete fabrications."