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Facebook Suit Shows Costs of Ignoring Court

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on May 09, 2012 6:56 AM

Free Enterprise has sporadically covered the story of Paul Ceglia, the man suing Facebook for a 50% share in the company. He purports to have signed a contract with Mark Zuckerberg in 2003, for which he claims to have email proof.

Now, the obvious lesson here is that you should really watch what you write in emails -- and don't use email to conduct negotiations. But the not-so-obvious lesson? You should really follow court orders.

If you don't, you might end up like Paul Ceglia -- fined.

Just last week, U.S. Magistrate Leslie Foschio hit Ceglia with an additional $16,851 in sanctions. He now owes Facebook a grand total of $92,627. He also owes the court another $5,000.

Magistrate Foschio originally fined Paul Ceglia in January, after he failed to comply with a court order requiring him to give Facebook access to his email accounts, reports Wired. Soon after, she awarded the social network $75,776 -- the attorney's fees associated with the company's attempts to get Ceglia to comply.

That amount has now been amended, with the court adding an additional $16,851 in fees.

Ceglia now has two weeks to pay Facebook or prove to the court that he does not have the financial means to do so. If he fails to do either one, chances are he will be issued yet another fine.

Paul Ceglia's fines are clearly getting out of control. But again, had he complied with the initial court order, he wouldn't have found himself in this position. So the next time you find yourself embroiled in a legal dispute, listen to your lawyer. And listen to the court.

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