The New York man suing Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg for a massive stake worth billions of dollars in the company has suffered several setbacks recently in the case, according to published reports.
Two high-powered law firms representing him resigned this week, and the judge denied his motion to postpone a hearing held on Thursday so that his new attorneys could have extra time to get up to speed in the case.
In the hearing, Judge Leslie G. Foschio from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York granted a Facebook motion to force the plaintiff to turn over data on his computer, including e-mail and documents related to his claim, as well as paper-based evidence, various media outlets reported, including the Associated Press and Bloomberg.
Paul Ceglia alleges that he owns 50 percent of Facebook because back in 2003, Zuckerberg, then a Harvard undergraduate, sold him the stake in the company for $1,000.
Back then, Facebook’s site hadn’t yet been launched and the company hadn’t yet been incorporated. It was a project Zuckerberg was working on in his dorm room. According to recent estimates, a 50 percent stake in Facebook today would be worth between $25 billion and $35 billion.
Ceglia has submitted as evidence copies of the purported contract he claims Zuckerberg signed but not the original, and the text of e-mail allegedly exchanged between the two men.
Facebook maintains that the evidence that would prove Ceglia’s claim is forged, and this week Judge Foschio approved the company’s motion to have Ceglia’s computer equipment and electronic and paper documents examined in an expedited manner to determine their authenticity.
Ceglia has said he hired Zuckerberg to do programming work for a website Ceglia ran called StreetFax.com, a database of traffic intersection photos and information aimed at insurance adjusters. He claims that after meeting Zuckerberg, he acquired the contested stake in the company.