Anyone following the ill-fated lawsuit filed against Facebook and its co-founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, by Paul Ceglia, who claimed to be the co-owner of the social network until the alleged contract his case was based on was deemed a fraud, had to wonder what Ceglia’s lawyers were thinking when they agreed to represent him, especially in light of the fact that several lawyers dropped the case at one time or another. Facebook apparently wondered the same thing, as the company filed suit against several of Ceglia’s lawyers, including those from DLA Piper, claiming that those lawyers and firms knew Ceglia’s claims were bogus but pursued the case in hopes of reaching a large settlement.
Ceglia’s lawsuit was dismissed in March.
The New York Times’ Bits blog reported on the suit by Facebook, saying that Ceglia and his multi-firm legal team pushed on with the case despite concrete evidence that his claims were false, adding that the social network is seeking unspecified damages.
According to Bits, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman withdrew from Ceglia’s suit after learning of the fraudulent contract, but one of the other law firms involved in the case convinced it to not reveal the reasons for its withdrawal.
Facebook said in its lawsuit, as reported by Bits:
The lawyers representing Ceglia knew or should have known that the lawsuit was a fraud — it was brought by a convicted felon with a history of fraudulent scams, and it was based on an implausible story and obviously forged documents. In fact, defendants’ own co-counsel discovered the fraud, informed the other lawyers and withdrew. Despite all this, defendants vigorously pursued the case in state and federal courts and in the media.
Another part of the suit read, according to CNET:
This discovery confirmed beyond any doubt that the lawsuit was based on a forgery. Yet even after receiving a warning letter from Kasowitz, DLA Piper and Ceglia’s other lawyers continued to pursue the fraudulent lawsuit.
The refusal of DLA Piper and Ceglia’s other lawyers to come clean even when withdrawing forced Facebook and Zuckerberg to continue defending a case the lawyers knew was a fraud.
Facebook vice president and general counsel Colin Stretch added in a statement, according to Bits:
We said from the beginning that Paul Ceglia’s claim was a fraud and that we would seek to hold those responsible accountable. DLA Piper and the other named law firms knew the case was based on forged documents, yet they pursued it anyway, and they should be held to account.
DLA Piper claimed it was only involved with Ceglia’s case for 78 days, saying in a statement by general counsel Peter Pantaleo, as reported by Bits:
This is an entirely baseless lawsuit that has been filed as a tactic to intimidate lawyers from bringing litigation against Facebook.
Readers: How will Facebook’s suit against Ceglia’s lawyers play out?