Paul Ceglia is a man in New York that is claiming that he is entitled to 84% ownership in social networking website Facebook.com. Ceglia’s lawyers are arguing that since Mark Zuckerberg lives out of a duffel bag, the lawsuit should be tried in the state of New York. They claim Zuckerberg has not set his legal roots in California.
In a separate court case in Massachusetts, Zuckerberg was considered a legal resident of New York in 2004. “He was living the same sort of existence the evidence shows now, a sort of duffel bag, apartment-to-apartment, transient life,” said Ceglia’s lawyer James Grable. “He’s got one foot in New York and one foot in California.”
“[Zuckerberg] is a 26-year-old man who has spent almost a quarter of his life building this company,” said the Facebook CEO’s lawyer Orin Synder in court. “There’s not a shred of evidence that he is living out of a duffel bag anywhere, period.”
Zuckerberg’s lawyers called Ceglia and the lawsuit a “fraud.” Ceglia wants the Facebook CEO tried in the state court because the federal court would not have jurisdiction if Zuckerberg was also a New York resident.
Ceglia brought the original case the state court. Before it was moved to the federal court, a state judge issued a restraining order that temporarily froze Facebook’s assets.
Ceglia claims he hired Zuckerberg as a work-for-hire when he was 19 years old in 2003. Ceglia paid Zuckerberg $1,000 to do his computer work. Zuckerberg then supposedly convinced Ceglia to invest in a project he was working on called The Face Book and The Page Book. Ceglia said he has an original contract, but he has not yet produced those documents in court.
What makes this court case even more interesting is that Zuckerberg’s lawyers never denied a contract ever being signed. It has also been pointed out that Ceglia is a convicted felon with a track record of scamming honest people.
Zuckerberg currently lives in an apartment in California with a month-to-month agreement and does not own any property according to the court case. Grable also pointed out that Zuckerberg made a $100 million donation to the Newark school system instead of California.
Synder countered with the fact that Zuckerberg has always lived a short walk from Facebook’s headquarters since 2004 and voted in California. Zuckerberg also received his bills and registered his car in California.
The judge did not indicate whose side would be taken in the argument. Judge Richard Arcara questioned Grable’s point about how Zuckerberg could live in his parent’s home. The judge also question why a man running such a big company does not own any property in California.
[Wall Street Journal]