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Nov. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Paul Ceglia, the New York man claiming half of Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg’s holdings, asked a judge to sanction Zuckerberg for allegedly destroying e-mail messages related to their dispute.
Ceglia said in filings yesterday in federal court in Buffalo, New York, that Zuckerberg deleted e-mails from his Harvard University account after Ceglia filed the lawsuit and after Zuckerberg received a so-called litigation hold.
In his lawsuit, filed in June 2010, Ceglia claims he and Zuckerberg signed a contract in 2003 making them partners at the start of Palo Alto, California-based Facebook. The company has called Ceglia’s claim a fraud.
Ceglia has said he communicated with Zuckerberg in 2003 and 2004 using Internet-based e-mail accounts. Ceglia claims he cut and pasted their correspondence into word processing documents, which he printed and saved.
“These filings by Ceglia and his latest lawyer are truly delusional,” Orin Snyder, a lawyer for Zuckerberg and Facebook, said in an e-mailed statement. “These are the desperate acts of a man whose fraudulent lawsuit has now been fully exposed.”
In his request for sanctions yesterday, Ceglia seeks an order prohibiting Facebook or Zuckerberg from disputing the authenticity of his e-mails. Ceglia hired a new lawyer this month, his fourth lead counsel since filing the lawsuit.
Both sides agree Zuckerberg signed a contract with Ceglia in 2003, when Zuckerberg was a freshman at Harvard University, to do computer coding for StreetFax.com, a company Ceglia was trying to start at the time. Ceglia claims the contract included a provision giving him a partnership stake in Facebook in exchange for some start-up money.
Facebook claims the e-mails are fabricated. The company has said its computer experts found the genuine contract between Ceglia and Zuckerberg, which concerns only the StreetFax work, on one of Ceglia’s computers. The contract makes no mention of Facebook, according to the company.
The case is Ceglia v. Zuckerberg, 1:10-cv-00569, U.S. District Court, Western District of New York (Buffalo).
--With assistance from Bob van Voris in New York. Editors: Peter Blumberg, Michael Hytha
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