Mark Zuckerberg wants to make the lawyers pay.
Back in 2011, attorney Robert Brownlie told me: “Anyone who claims this case is fraudulent and brought by a scam artist will come to regret those claims.” Brownlie, a partner at DLA Piper, one of the world’s largest law firms, was referring to a 2010 lawsuit brought by a shady character named Paul Ceglia who claimed to own a large chunk of Facebook.
Ceglia’s 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 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:
Facebook’s suit should not, however, be too surprising to DLA Piper. Back in 2012, Fortune’s Roger Parloff wrote that this day was coming. View Facebook’s complaint below: