Facebook Claimant Ceglia’s Lawyer Exodus Prompts Delay Bid

Facebook Inc. claimant Paul Ceglia asked a U.S. court to delay his lawsuit claiming half the holdings of the company’s co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, as Ceglia seeks to reconstruct his legal team.

Most of Ceglia’s lawyers, from the firms DLA Piper LLP and Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP, filed papers yesterday in federal court in Buffalo, New York, saying they were quitting less than three months after joining the case.

On the eve of a hearing requested by Facebook, which claims the case is a “fraud on the court,” Ceglia asked the judge today for a three-week postponement. He said he wants to allow a new lawyer, Jeffrey A. Lake of San Diego, to become familiar with the case and to permit Ceglia to hire new lead counsel.

“We’ve been very impressed with the all firms we have interviewed,” said Paul Argentieri, of Hornell, New York, Ceglia’s original attorney. “The directive from our client was clear: find a firm with the resources, experience, and legal horsepower to handle a case of this magnitude. But above all, find someone who will not be intimidated by the defendant.”

DLA Piper, which has 4,200 lawyers in 30 countries, is one of the biggest law firms in the world. The Lippes Mathias lawyers representing Ceglia included former New York Attorney General Dennis Vacco. DLA Piper and Vacco declined to say why they were withdrawing from the case.

2003 Contract

Ceglia claims he and Zuckerberg signed a contract in 2003 that made them equal partners when Zuckerberg launched Facebook the following year. Facebook, based in Palo Alto, California, is valued at as much as $71 billion, according to Sharespost.com, an online marketplace for investments in companies that aren’t publicly traded.

Facebook and Zuckerberg claim the contract is a fake and have called Ceglia a con man in court papers. Facebook has asked a Buffalo judge to issue an order seizing Ceglia’s computers and requiring him to turn over an original contract and e-mails.

The case is Ceglia v. Zuckerberg, 1:10-cv-00569, U.S. District Court, Western District of New York (Buffalo).

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Van Voris in U.S. District Court in Manhattan at rvanvoris@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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