US judge: Man's Facebook claim should be dismissed (Update)

Mar 26, 2013

A New York man's multibillion-dollar lawsuit claiming half-ownership of Facebook Inc. should be dismissed, a federal judge recommended Tuesday.

Siding with the social media company and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, Magistrate Judge Leslie Foschio said the contract on which Paul Ceglia based his case was faked.

Facebook recently said it has 1 billion users, and it has been valued at $50 billion,

Ceglia, 39, sued in 2010 claiming that he and Zuckerberg, then a Harvard University student, signed a software development contract in 2003 that included a provision entitling Ceglia to half ownership of Facebook in exchange for $1,000 in startup money for the young company.

The judge found that while the two did sign a contract, any references to Facebook had been added later. He pointed to a copy of the original April 28, 2003, contract discovered on a hard drive as the lawsuit was being argued. Ceglia had emailed it to an attorney in March 2004, years before his lawsuit against Facebook and Zuckerberg.

The magistrate's recommendations now go to a district judge, who will consider any objections before either adopting or modifying the decision.

"Today's federal court decision confirms what we have said from day one: this lawsuit is an inexcusable fraud based on forged documents," said Colin Stretch, deputy general counsel for Facebook. "We are pleased the court agrees."

A call to Ceglia's attorney, Dean Boland, was not immediately returned.

A federal indictment out of New York City in November charged Ceglia with mail and wire fraud after an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service alleged Ceglia doctored, fabricated and destroyed evidence to support the claims in his 2010 lawsuit.

He has pleaded not guilty.

At the time of the indictment, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Ceglia was seeking a "quick payday based on a blatant forgery."

If convicted, Ceglia could face up to 40 years in prison.

Zuckerberg is worth an estimated $13.3 billion.

Explore further: Smartphone sales lifted by emerging markets

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NY man accused of trying to cheat Facebook

Oct 26, 2012

(AP)—A New York man has been charged in what authorities call a multibillion-dollar scheme to defraud Facebook Inc. and its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook urges court to boot ownership suit

Mar 26, 2012

Facebook on Monday called on a judge to toss out a New York man's claim to partial ownership of the world's leading social network on the basis that the suit is bogus.

NY man suing Facebook fined $5,000 by court

Jan 11, 2012

(AP) -- A New York man who's suing for part ownership of Facebook has been fined $5,000 by a federal judge for failing to fully comply with an order to turn over his email account information.

Zuckerberg: Contract for Facebook ownership 'fake'

Jun 03, 2011

(AP) -- Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says emails and a signed document that form the basis of a New York man's lawsuit claiming part ownership of the social networking phenomenon are fakes.

Recommended for you

Lenovo wraps up purchase of Motorola phone unit

4 hours ago

Lenovo Group announced the completion of its acquisition of Motorola Mobility from Google Inc. on Thursday in a move aimed at making the Chinese computer maker a global smartphone brand.

Baidu profit up 27 percent as mobile grows

7 hours ago

Chinese search engine Baidu Inc. said Thursday its quarterly profit rose 27 percent as user traffic for its mobile operation surpassed passed its desktop computer-based search business.

Samsung vows changes after mobile profit plunges

8 hours ago

Samsung Electronics Co. admitted erring in its smartphone strategy and vowed Thursday to overhaul its handset lineup after profit from those devices tumbled last quarter to the lowest in more than three years.

WhatsApp founders own nearly $9B in Facebook stock

8 hours ago

WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton received 116 million shares of Facebook stock currently worth nearly $9 billion when they sold their unprofitable messaging service to the social networking leader earlier this month.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.