Facebook has accused Paul Ceglia, the man who claims he's entitled to half of the social network, of concealing e-mail accounts during his ongoing lawsuit, including one called email@example.com.
The "getzuck" account was uncovered by Facebook's forensics experts, along with three other rather innocuously named accounts that Ceglia has been using since 2003, lawyers for the social network said in a motion filed yesterday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York.
The motion (see below) asks the court to approve subpoenas allowing Facebook's attorneys to inspect the contents of the accounts, which also include firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ceglia's ongoing obstruction--in the face of repeated motions to compel--has prejudiced defendants by denying them access to time-sensitive electronic material that this court ordered Ceglia to disclose more than six months ago. Ceglia's attorney Dean Boland appears to have recognized as much. After learning that his client had failed to identify webmail accounts in yet another violation of this court's orders, he sent an e-mail to defendants' attorneys offering to provide signed consent forms for two of the four undisclosed accounts: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. He did not, however, mention or offer Ceglia's consent to the inspection of the email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org accounts.
The filing notes that previous motions to compel have led to sanctions against Ceglia. Federal Magistrate Leslie G. Foschio in Buffalo, N.Y., last week ordered Ceglia to reimburse Facebook nearly $76,000 in attorneys' fees related to the case. That was on top of a $5,000 contempt sanction Ceglia was ordered to pay last month for delays in making his e-mails available in his case against Facebook.
Boland did not respond to a request for comment.
Ceglia, who claims he has a contract with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that entitles him to a 50 percent ownership in the company, was ordered last August to hand over his e-mail account and passwords. 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 its co-founder and chief executive, Mark 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."