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Ceglia hit with $5,000 fine as Facebook mulls dismissal request

The man who claims he owns 50 percent of Facebook has been ordered to pay a fine for not providing e-mails to the court in a timely manner.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

A federal court judge has hit Paul Ceglia with a fine over delays in making his e-mails available in his case against Facebook.

According to Buffalo News, which attended the court hearing yesterday, Ceglia was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine for part of Facebook's attorney fees and expenses for trying to keep his e-mail messages out of his case against Facebook. U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie G. Foschio said in court yesterday that "the circumstances under which [Ceglia] attempted to avoid complying establishes a plain lack of respect for the court's order which cannot be countenanced."

Ceglia was ordered to hand over his e-mails account and passwords last August. After he failed to do so, Facebook filed a motion in the U.S. District Court in Buffalo, N.Y. in October, requesting an order that compelled him to do so. That hearing also revealed that Ceglia's attorney at the time, Jeffrey Lake, was told by Ceglia that he wouldn't comply with the order.

"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. "Mr. Ceglia instructed me not to comply with this provision and to bring the issue before [U.S.] District Judge [Richard] Arcara."

Soon after, Lake withdrew from the case, becoming the latest in a string of attorneys who stopped representing Ceglia since he initially filed a lawsuit against Facebook and its co-founder Mark Zuckerberg in 2010. Ceglia argues that he entered into a contract with Zuckerberg in 2003 to design and develop a site that would ultimately become Facebook. That contract, Ceglia argues, entitles him to 50 percent ownership in the social network.

For their part, Facebook and Zuckerberg have said that Ceglia's arguments are nonsense. Zuckerberg has, however, acknowledged that he did work with Ceglia on a Web site, but that was for another project he was working on at the time.

Soon, though, the case might be over. According to Buffalo News, which spoke with Facebook attorney Orin Snyder, the social network is planning to file a motion to dismiss the case.

Facebook did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment on the court's fine.