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Facebook May Have Found ‘Smoking Gun’ In Ceglia Lawsuit

August 8, 2011

In court documents filed on Thursday, Facebook lawyers claim to have found a “smoking gun” that will prove a New York man’s lawsuit against the social network is fraudulent, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

In July 2010, Paul Ceglia sued the Mark Zuckerberg-founded website, claiming that a contract between the two of them entitled Ceglia to half of the company. Facebook has contended that the so-called contract is a forgery and that the plaintiff is an “inveterate scam artist,” said Reuters’ Dan Levine.

Now they claim to have found evidence in the form of “uncovered documents on Ceglia’s computers that undermine his claims. Last month, they had been granted permission by the US Magistrate Judge Leslie Foschio to run “forensic tests on his computers, hard drives and electronic storage media, as well as on the contract and the e-mail he says support his claim,” Bloomberg reporter Bob Van Voris said.

According to Van Voris, Facebook’s court filing stated that, “Defendants have uncovered smoking-gun evidence that the purported contract at the heart of this case is a fabrication.”

“In a publicly filed version of the motion papers, Facebook, citing a confidentiality order in the case, didn’t identify the evidence it says was ‘embedded in the electronic data on Ceglia’s computer,’” the Bloomberg reporter added.

Levine notes that Facebook, which has more than 500 million users and has been valued at nearly $70 million, has requested permission to make the documents public.

“[Ceglia] does not want the public to know what was discovered on his computers,” attorneys for Facebook wrote, according to the Reuters reporter, “because it includes smoking-gun documents that conclusively establish that he fabricated the purported contract and that this entire lawsuit is a fraud and a lie.”

Lawyers for Ceglia declined Van Voris’ request for comment, citing a confidentiality order in the case, and did not respond to Reuters’ requests to respond to Facebook’s allegations.

“On July 1, Foschio entered several orders requiring Ceglia to turn over evidence for testing by Facebook,” the Bloomberg reporter said. “Foschio also ordered Facebook to produce samples of Zuckerberg’s signature and 176 e-mails from Zuckerberg’s Harvard University e-mail account.”

“Both sides filed papers claiming the other side has failed to comply fully,” Van Voris added. “Facebook also said Ceglia abused Foschio’s protective order by designating all 120 relevant items found on Ceglia’s computers, CDs and floppy disks as confidential.”

A hearing on the matter has been scheduled for August 17.

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