A man who claims to own one-half of Facebook and his Ohio attorney have each been sanctioned $1,000 and ordered to turn over a letter from a New York law firm that ostensibly concludes the plaintiff is a fraud. In an order yesterday, Western District Magistrate Judge Leslie Foschio (See Profile) gave Paul Ceglia and attorney Dean Boland three days to reveal the so-called “Kasowitz letter.” The letter was apparently sent from the Manhattan firm of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, which previously represented Ceglia in a claim against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, to two other firms that also had represented Ceglia—DLA Piper and Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman.
According to Foschio’s order, the Kasowitz letter advises DLA and Lippes Mathias that it is withdrawing from the matter because it determined that a purported contract between Ceglia and Zuckerberg is a fraud. Ceglia has been claiming for years that he developed Facebook along with Zuckerberg and is entitled to a share of the company.
Foschio has twice ordered Ceglia to produce the Kasowitz letter. However, Ceglia has instead submitted it to the court—unsolicited and contrary to the court’s order—for an in camera review. “That the Kasowitz letter was never disclosed in the privilege log, given the obvious relevance to the issue of whether the contract at the heart of this litigation is genuine, is beyond cavil,” Foschio wrote in Ceglia v. Zuckerberg, 10-cv-00569. He said the plaintiff’s “attempt to goad the court into further review of the Kasowitz letter by its unsolicited submission to the court” only delayed compliance with his order. “Such conduct is beyond disrespect and will not be countenanced,” he said.
Foschio fined Ceglia $1,000 for failing to produce the letter to the defendants and fined his attorney, Boland of Lakewood, Ohio, $1,000 for interfering with the court’s discovery orders. He also directed Zuckerberg’s attorneys at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and Harris Beach to submit for attorney fees.