Man suing for half of Facebook loses another lawyer

Attorney withdraws from case after telling the court that his client instructed him not to comply with a court order to turn over evidence in the case.

Paul Ceglia, the man who claims he has a contract that entitles him to a half ownership in Facebook, is again changing legal representation in his lawsuit against the social-networking giant and its co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg.

Ceglia filed a motion today in U.S. District Court in Buffalo, N.Y., to delay proceedings for three weeks while he finds new legal representation after allowing Jeffrey Lake to withdraw from the case.

Ceglia is in the "final stages of obtaining new counsel," the filing said. Co-counsel Paul Argentieri will remain on the case, according to the filing.

Lake, who took on the case in June, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and Ceglia has reportedly relocated his family to Ireland as a result of the attention the case has attracted and could not be reached for comment.

Ceglia claimed in a lawsuit filed last year against Facebook and its CEO that Zuckerberg entered into a contract with Ceglia in 2003 to design and develop the Web site that would ultimately become Facebook--a company now with an estimated value of more than $70 billion.

Zuckerberg and Facebook, which have called the alleged Facebook contract a "cut-and-paste job," filed a discovery motion in June for the original contract, e-mails in native form, and inspection of all computers in Ceglia's possession, as well as those in his parents' house.

Lake's departure comes after telling the court that Ceglia instructed him not to comply with a court order to turn over evidence in the case.

"I informed Mr. Ceglia that the court had ordered him to produce, among other things, accounts and passwords for all email accounts he had used since 2003," Lake said in a declaration filed with the court October 7. "Mr. Ceglia instructed me not to comply with this provision and to bring the issue before [U.S.] District Judge [Richard] Arcara."

Facebook suggested in a filing Friday that Lake's declaration may have violated his professional duties to serve as Ceglia's attorney.

"The decision by Ceglia's lawyers to turn on their client and publicly accuse him of wrongdoing by disclosing their confidential communications with him--as part of an effort to protect themselves and shift the blame to their client--raises serious questions as to whether they have violated their professional duties and may continue to represent Ceglia in this matter," Facebook said in its filing.

Lake joined the case in June 2011 after the withdrawal of high-power law firm DLA Piper , which joined the case in April. Former New York attorney general Dennis Vacco and Terrence Connors have also represented Ceglia in the matter.

 

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