Facebook willing to submit Mark Zuckerberg emails to court in Ceglia ownership dispute
Facebook is willing to fork over hundreds of Mark Zuckerberg's freshman-year emails at Harvard to a Buffalo judge in a lawsuit brought to court by Paul Ceglia, who says he's entitled to half of Zuckerber's stake in the world's most popular social networking site.
But Facebook said in a Friday court filing it won't be doing so until after Ceglia submits the original contract and emails on which his complaint is based.
"Our filing today makes clear that Ceglia's case is an endlessly moving target that becomes increasingly preposterous with each new filing," said Orin Snyder, an attorney for Facebook and Zuckerberg. "His first complaint attached a bogus contract, but said nothing about emails. His second complaint alleged that he had emails, but did not attach a single one, even though he said they were on his parents' computers.
"His most recent filing recants this story and admits that he does not have any actual emails on computers. We are now asking the Court to order Ceglia, once and for all, to produce all of the computers and documents that will expose his fraud," Snyder said.
In the court filing, Facebook said it would "have no objection to producing all the emails between Zuckerberg and Ceglia" from Zuckerberg's Harvard email account.
"These indisputably genuine emails directly contradict Ceglia's make-believe narrative and demonstrate that Ceglia's story is a lie. Defendants are willing to produce these emails under a protective order after Ceglia has produced the documents and items" that the suit is based on, the filing said.
In past court filings, Facebook has argued that Ceglia's claims to 50% of Zuckerberg's multi-billion-dollar ownership share in the Palo Alto company are made up and that its own forensic experts have determined that Ceglia doctored a 2003 contract and fabricated emails he said he exchanged with Zuckerberg.
In court documents, the social media giant has described Ceglia's suit as "a brazen and outrageous fraud" and said the man, who has a history of legal troubles, is "an inveterate scam artist whose misconduct extends across decades and borders."
Ceglia's lawyers have said in filings that the New York man has a 2003 agreement with Zuckerberg in place and even passed a lie-detector test that showed "no deception" in his claims.
So far, Ceglia has not offered up original copies of the alleged contract or emails with Zuckerberg and now, it seems, Facebook is attempting to call the man's bluff.
Facebook has said that Zuckerberg did do some programming work for Ceglia in 2003 as a side-job to earn extra cash when he was a Harvard freshman. But that work, Facebook's lawyers have said, never involved Zuckerberg promising Ceglia any ownership stake in the social networking site.
The news of Facebook's ultimatum to Ceglia comes a day after a new development in another suit in which the twin brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss said they would not take their seven-year legal court battle with Zuckerberg to the Supreme Court but rather to a federal court in Boston where they say they will submit new "important information" that was left out during previous litigation.
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg in April 7. Credit: Norbert von der Groeben / Reuters