Facebook is the Mount Everest of Intellectual Property litigation quests.  It’s just so big!  When the lawfirms in this case came across a potential client who just might own half of Facebook, all caution was forgotten.  Sure, the plaintiff resided in the poorest county in New York, where there are more cows then people.  Sure, he had a slightly deficient background or a cover story of how he might have owned a lot of facebook, but, gollly gee, It’s just so big!

Anyway, Facebook, Inc. v DLA Piper LLP (US)   2015 NY Slip Op 30764(U)  May 11, 2015  Supreme Court, New York County  Docket Number: 653183/2014  Judge: Eileen A. Rakower  is the result.

“This is an action for malicious prosecution and violation of New York Judiciary Law § 487 arising from various law firms and attorneys’ alleged participation in a fraudulent breach of contract lawsuit against plaintiffs, Facebook, Inc. (“Face book”) and Mark Elliot Zuckerberg (“Zuckerberg”) (collectively, “Plaintiffs”). Non-party Paul Ceglia (“Ceglia”) filed the underlying breach of contract action in June 2010 in the Supreme Court of Allegany County, New York, under the caption, Paul D. Ceglia v. Mark Elliot Zuckerberg and Facebook, Inc., No. 1 O-cv-00569-RJA (W.D.N.Y.) (the “Ceglia Action”). Plaintiffs claim that Ceglia forged the purported contract document in issue in that case, and that defendants, DLA Piper (US) (“DLA Piper”), Christopher P. Hall (“Hall”), John Allcock (“Allcock”), Robert W. Brownlie (“Brownlie”), Gerard A. Trippitelli (“Trippitelli”) (and together with DLA Piper, Hall, Allcock, and Brownlie, the  “DLA Defendants”), Paul Argentieri & Associates (“P A&A”), Paul A. Argentieri (“Argentieri”) (and together with PA&A, the “Argentieri Defendants”), Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP (“LMWF”), Dennis C. Vacco (“Vacco”), Kevin J. Cross (“Cross”) (and together with LMWF and Vacco, the “Lippes Defendants”), Milberg LLP (“Milberg”), Sanford P. Dumain (“Dumain”), and Jennifer L. Young (“Young”) (and together with Mil berg and Dumain, the “Mil berg Defendants”) (collectively, “Defendants”), are various law firms and attorneys who pursued the Ceglia Action, on Ceglia’s behalf, with knowledge that the subject document was forged.

Plaintiffs’ complaint alleges that DLA Defendants and Lippes Defendants entered appearances for Ceglia in the Ceglia Action, “[ o ]n April I I, 20 I I-after (on information and belief) Marks and the Kasowitz lawyers had notified their co-counsel that they had discovered [evidence of forgery] on Ceglia’s [hard drive] and that Ceglia’s claims were fraudulent”. (Compl. if 62). Plaintiffs’ complaint further asserts: Also on April I 1, 201 I, Ceglia’s new team oflawyers filed a 25-page amended complaint (the “Amended Complaint”) that repeated Ceglia’s false claims. The Amended Complaint was signed by Hall of DLA Piper and also listed as counsel Allcock, Brownlie, and Trippitelli otDLA Piper; Vacco and Cross of Lippes Mathias; and Argentieri. Like the original Complaint, the Amended Complaint attached a ‘copy of the forged [contract document] as an exhibit, represented that the [this document] was authentic, and claimed that Zuckerberg had breached the purported contract. (Compl. if 63).

Turning now to Plaintiffs’ second cause of action, for violation of New York Judiciary Law § 487, pursuant to Judiciary Law § 487, any attorney or counselor who “is guilty of any deceit or collusion, or consents to any deceit or collusion, with intent to deceive the court or any party” is “guilty of a misdemeanor, and in addition to the punishment prescribed therefor by the penal law, he forfeits to the party injured treble damages, to be recovered in a civil action.” (Jud. Law § 487). Section 487′ s “evident intent” is “to enforce an attorney’s special obligation to protect the integrity of the courts and foster their truth-seeking function.” (Amalfitano v. Rosenberg, 12 N.Y.3d 8, 14 [2009]). Thus, allegations that defendant deceived or attempted to deceive the court with fictitious documents may be sufficient to state a cause of action for violation of Judiciary Law § 487. (Maze! 315 W 35th LLC v. 315 W 35th Assoc. LLC, 120 A.D.3d 1106, 1107 [1st Dep’t 2014] 7 [* 7] [“Plaintiffs evidence showing that defendant presented false assignment documents for recordation in the City Register and sent a letter to the justice stating falsely that his client was the true owner of the notes and mortgages establishes an egregious act of intentional deceit of the court sufficient to support the cause of action.”]; Kur man v. Schnapp, 73 A.D.3d 435, 435 [1st Dep’t 2010] [“Plaintiff stated a cause of action under Judiciary Law § 487 by alleging that defendant deceived or attempted to deceive the court with a fictitious letter addressed to him from the former licensing director of the City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) that stated, inter alia, that plaintiff was under a lifetime ban on owning any licenses with the TLC.”]). Here, Plaintiffs’ complaint alleges that Moving Defendants maintained a breach of contract action as against Facebook and Zuckerberg even though Moving Defendants knew that the contract in issue in that action was a forgery. (Compl. ~~ 60-61, 67, 113 ). Plaintiffs’ complaint further alleges that Moving Defendants filed discovery motions and made arguments in court in reliance on the authenticity of a purported contract document that Moving Defendants knew to be forged. (Compl. irir 74-75; 95-96). Accepting Plaintiffs’ allegations as true and drawing all inferences in favor of the non-moving party, Plaintiffs’ complaint adequately alleges that Moving Defendants deceived or attempted to deceive the court presiding over the Ceglia Action with fictitious documents. Accordingly, viewing Plaintiffs’ complaint in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs, the four corners of Plaintiffs’ complaint are sufficient to state a cause of action for violation of Judiciary Law § 487 as against Moving Defendants, for purposes of surviving a motion to dismiss at this early stage of litigation.”


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Andrew Lavoott Bluestone

Andrew Lavoott Bluestone has been an attorney for 40 years, with a career that spans criminal prosecution, civil litigation and appellate litigation. Mr. Bluestone became an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County in 1978, entered private practice in 1984 and in 1989 opened…

Andrew Lavoott Bluestone has been an attorney for 40 years, with a career that spans criminal prosecution, civil litigation and appellate litigation. Mr. Bluestone became an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County in 1978, entered private practice in 1984 and in 1989 opened his private law office and took his first legal malpractice case.

Since 1989, Bluestone has become a leader in the New York Plaintiff’s Legal Malpractice bar, handling a wide array of plaintiff’s legal malpractice cases arising from catastrophic personal injury, contracts, patents, commercial litigation, securities, matrimonial and custody issues, medical malpractice, insurance, product liability, real estate, landlord-tenant, foreclosures and has defended attorneys in a limited number of legal malpractice cases.

Bluestone also took an academic role in field, publishing the New York Attorney Malpractice Report from 2002-2004.  He started the “New York Attorney Malpractice Blog” in 2004, where he has published more than 4500 entries.

Mr. Bluestone has written 38 scholarly peer-reviewed articles concerning legal malpractice, many in the Outside Counsel column of the New York Law Journal. He has appeared as an Expert witness in multiple legal malpractice litigations.

Mr. Bluestone is an adjunct professor of law at St. John’s University College of Law, teaching Legal Malpractice.  Mr. Bluestone has argued legal malpractice cases in the Second Circuit, in the New York State Court of Appeals, each of the four New York Appellate Divisions, in all four of  the U.S. District Courts of New York and in Supreme Courts all over the state.  He has also been admitted pro haec vice in the states of Connecticut, New Jersey and Florida and was formally admitted to the US District Court of Connecticut and to its Bankruptcy Court all for legal malpractice matters. He has been retained by U.S. Trustees in legal malpractice cases from Bankruptcy Courts, and has represented municipalities, insurance companies, hedge funds, communications companies and international manufacturing firms. Mr. Bluestone regularly lectures in CLEs on legal malpractice.

Based upon his professional experience Bluestone was named a Diplomate and was Board Certified by the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys in 2008 in Legal Malpractice. He remains Board Certified.  He was admitted to The Best Lawyers in America from 2012-2019.  He has been featured in Who’s Who in Law since 1993.

In the last years, Mr. Bluestone has been featured for two particularly noteworthy legal malpractice cases.  The first was a settlement of an $11.9 million dollar default legal malpractice case of Yeo v. Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman which was reported in the NYLJ on August 15, 2016. Most recently, Mr. Bluestone obtained a rare plaintiff’s verdict in a legal malpractice case on behalf of the City of White Plains v. Joseph Maria, reported in the NYLJ on February 14, 2017. It was the sole legal malpractice jury verdict in the State of New York for 2017.

Bluestone has been at the forefront of the development of legal malpractice principles and has contributed case law decisions, writing and lecturing which have been recognized by his peers.  He is regularly mentioned in academic writing, and his past cases are often cited in current legal malpractice decisions. He is recognized for his ample writings on Judiciary Law § 487, a 850 year old statute deriving from England which relates to attorney deceit.