Legal Technology

Redaction Flub Reveals Facebook Claim It Unearthed ‘Authentic Contract’ in Ceglia Suit


A federal judge has ordered the plaintiff claiming he has a 50 percent stake in Facebook to turn over 120 documents despite claims of confidentiality.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Lesslie Foschio ordered Paul Ceglia to submit the documents for review on Wednesday after Facebook alleged that it had found a “smoking gun” in the case, according to Wired’s Epicenter blog.

Facebook had said in a court filing (PDF posted by Wired) on Friday that it found 120 relevant electronic documents on computers, CDs and floppy disks turned over during discovery, but Ceglia had improperly claimed they were protected by confidentiality and attorney-client privilege. Among the discovered documents, Facebook said in its Friday court filings, was a “smoking gun”—an “authentic contract” in which Ceglia hired Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to do work for Ceglia’s company StreetFax, Wired reported on Saturday.

Ceglia has claimed the contract gives him half ownership of Facebook in exchange for a $1,000 investment; Facebook has claimed Ceglia’s version of the document is likely forged.

The reference to the “authentic contract” was an apparent flub by Facebook lawyers. It was mentioned in original court documents filed with Pacer on Friday. On Saturday, Facebook’s lawyers asked to substitute new documents due to improper redaction, Wired says. The new Pacer filings substitute the word “redacted” for references to an “authentic contract” and to “storage devices” allegedly being used to hide relevant documents, Wired says. But the reference to the “smoking gun” evidence remains.

Updated at 1:09 p.m. to include information about the 120 documents.

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