Facebook – like any big, juicy, rich corporate – is a very large target for lawsuits from all comers. And one of the ‘comers’ is now facing the music as the social network files claim against him for allegedly fraudulently suing Facebook. However, Facebook isn’t stopping there, it’s also going after DLA Piper, the law firm who represented Paul Ceglia when the 2010 lawsuit was filed. Hmmm.
Fortune Magazine report that DLA Piper attorney Robert Brownlie had said: “Anyone who claims this case is fraudulent and brought by a scam artist will come to regret those claims.”
The lawsuit claims that Ceglia was part-owner of Facebook and his claims have long been dismissed amid substantial evidence that he fabricated many of his supporting documents, and now it’s likely Brownlie who regrets his claims. On Monday, Facebook ( FB 1.32% ) filed suit against Brownlie, DLA Piper and several other lawyers and firms that got involved in the case for their representation of Ceglia, who claimed to be entitled to 50% ownership in the social network, based on work he had done with Mark Zuckerberg seven years earlier.
“We said from the beginning that Paul Ceglia’s claim was a fraud and that we would seek to hold those responsible accountable,” says Colin Stretch, Facebook’s general counsel. “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.”
The complaint was filed in New York Supreme Court, and accuses the firms of malicious prosecution and collusion with the intent to deceive a court. Facebook is requesting both treble damages and punitive damages.
Brownlie’s statement to me, made while I was reporting the story for the New York Times, are cited in Facebook’s complaint.
In response to today’s suit, a DLA spokesman said the following:
“This is an entirely baseless lawsuit that has been filed as a tactic to intimidate lawyers from bringing litigation against Facebook. DLA Piper, which was not part of this case at its outset or its conclusion, was involved for 78 days. Facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg claim that they were damaged in those 78 days, yet a mere 10 months after DLA Piper withdrew from the case and while the litigation was still pending, Facebook went to market with an initial public offering that valued the company at $100 billion. Today, Facebook is worth $200 billion and Mr. Zuckerberg is among the richest people in the world. We will defend this meritless litigation aggressively and we will prevail.