Facebook has filed a motion asking to dismiss Paul Ceglia’s lawsuit claiming he owns half of the company.
The social network submitted a filing to U.S. Court for the Western District of New York this morning, and we’ve embedded a copy of the document below.
The filing calls Ceglia’s suit “a fraudulent shakedown,” and includes additional evidence that Facebook’s forensic experts uncovered from the Harvard University’s computers.
Among other evidence becoming public for the first time with today’s filing: the original version of the contract between Ceglia’s defunct company StreetFax and Mark Zuckerberg, which says nothing about Facebook.
The filing calls the emails that Ceglia submitted as evidence a set of fabricated lies, “historically impossible fiction” that he typed into backdated Word documents.
None of the messages that Ceglia provided showed up in Harvard’s server logs from 2004, when Zuckerberg had done contractual work for StreetFax; the emails housed in the school’s computers indicate that Ceglia underpaid Zuckerberg by about $10,500 for work done on StreetFax.
Facebook’s motion includes testimony from forensics experts who say that Ceglia reset the clock on his computer in attempt to make it look like the fake emails were created in 2003 and 2004, but in a couple of instances he got the dates and times wrong.
Speaking of timing, it’s very much in Facebook’s best interest to get rid of claims like Ceglia’s as soon as possible — not that any one case going away is enough to change the social network’s risk profile as disclosed in the initial public offer documents.
IPO riches may explain why the prestigious law firm Milberg LLP joined the case after as many as five previous attorneys have dropped the representation, all of them doing so at times that happened to coincide with deadlines for filings requested by subpoenas.
Ceglia’s attorneys said in a prepared statement responding to the motion:
We have made a preliminary review of Facebook’s motion, which attempts to have this matter ended before Facebook has to provide any discovery and before going to a jury.
The Federal Rules of Evidence say a jury should weigh the evidence in this case, including experts’ declarations in Mr. Ceglia’s favor about the authenticity of his contract with Mr. Zuckerberg. Mr. Ceglia deserves his day in court, where the jury will resolve this dispute over the ownership of Facebook.
The motion by Facebook says that Ceglia intentionally violated the court’s orders, including telling his attorneys not to comply with those directives; the court even said as much in prior filings, stating that Ceglia demonstrated “a plain lack of respect” for court orders “which cannot be countenanced.”
The last couple of paragraphs in the motion really nail it: “Ceglia is a career criminal and scam artist… This case is his biggest hustle yet.”
Readers, how do you think the court will respond to Facebook’s request for dismissal?