NY man's lawyer seeks out of Facebook lawsuit

AP News
Posted: Oct 18, 2011 5:21 PM
NY man's lawyer seeks out of Facebook lawsuit

The latest lawyer to represent a man suing for part ownership of Facebook wants off the case.

San Diego attorney Jeffrey Lake this week asked a federal judge in Buffalo to halt Paul Ceglia's court proceedings for three weeks to give a new lawyer time to get up to speed following his withdrawal.

The judge on Tuesday gave Facebook until Thursday to respond.

Lake's filing didn't give a reason for leaving less than four months after joining the case. Before him, lawyers from three other firms left Ceglia's legal team without saying why. Hornell attorney Paul Argentieri remains lead counsel.

Ceglia is in the final stages of obtaining new counsel, Lake's filing said. Neither Lake nor Facebook responded to The Associated Press' requests for comment Tuesday.

Ceglia's lawsuit claims he's entitled to half of Facebook, estimated to be worth $50 billion or more, because of a 2003 deal he made with the social networking website's founder, Mark Zuckerberg, when Ceglia enlisted him to help on a street-mapping database he was creating. Zuckerberg was a Harvard University freshman at the time.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Facebook says Ceglia's claim is baseless.

In recent weeks, Facebook attorneys have argued for fees and sanctions against Ceglia, claiming he has failed to comply with a magistrate judge's orders to turn over email passwords and other material relevant to the case.

Lake, in his response, said Ceglia instructed him not to comply with an order to turn over email passwords without first bringing his objections to a district court judge, who rejected them. Lake said Ceglia eventually provided the passwords.

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Ceglia, of Wellsville, in the state's southern tier, has been staying in Ireland and has not appeared at court hearings in the case. Facebook attorneys have suggested he should.

"In light of Ceglia's brazen defiance of court orders _ and the serious charges leveled against him by his own attorneys _ this court may wish to order Ceglia to personally appear ... and provide direct answers to the many remaining questions concerning his conduct in this litigation," Facebook attorney Orin Snyder wrote in an Oct. 14 filing supporting sanctions.