A year ago, an upstate New York man held the media in thrall with a tale that Mark Zuckerberg had signed over 84% of Facebook to him in exchange for $1,000.
Today, Zuckerberg is about to become a multi-billionaire and the would-be owner, Paul Ceglia, is not just shut out of the upcoming IPO but must also pay Facebook $75,766 in legal bills.
In a ruling handed down in Buffalo late Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Foschio said Ceglia had to pay the fee in addition to an earlier $5,000 fine imposed on him for abusing the legal system.
In an unusually long ruling that describes the billing habits of high-priced lawyers, Foschio rejected Ceglia’s claim that Facebook’s five lawyers should bill at Buffalo rates rather than pricey New York City ones.
Page 11 of the filing shows that Facebook’s highest price lawyer charges $925 per hour hour and its most junior one bills at $450. The judge said the fees, which the lawyers offered to reduce by 25 percent, were justified in part because Facebook needed criminal forgery experts to challenge a bogus contract produced by Ceglia.
Today’s court award counts for only a fraction of a long-running case in which Ceglia has gone through a revolving door of lawyers, including one high-priced firm who hoped to follow the Winkelvii in taking a part of Facebook’s gold.