Winklevoss Twins petition to void court ruling on Facebook settlement
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The Winklevoss twins aren’t giving up their Facebook fight just yet.
On Monday, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss filed a petition with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a court ruling from last week that said the two men can’t get out of their 2008 settlement with Facebook.
For about $65 million in cash and stock, the Winklevosses settled a suit against Facebook that claimed co-founder Mark Zuckerberg stole the idea for the social networking website while working on a site for them called ConnectU when the three were students at Harvard.
The settlement is now worth more than $160 million because of Facebook’s rocketing popularity and value.
The investment firm T. Rowe Price recently bought $190.5 million in Facebook shares. Facebook, now the Internet’s most visited website, is valued at about $50 billion.
A three-judge panel at the Court of Appeals ruled against the twins last week and now the two are looking to an 11-judge panel to consider their appeal.
The Winklevosses have argued in court documents that after the settlement was reached, they found out that their stock was worth less than were led to believe in the 2008 agreement.
The appeal was filed by the Winklevosses’ lawyers at the law firm Howard Rice. Jerome B. Falk Jr., one of the twins’ lawyers, said in a statement that the appeal is not for the courts to decide whether the substantial settlement is worth being kept or not, but rather whether the settlement was reached legally.
‘Settlements should be based on honest dealing,’ Falk said. ‘Courts have wisely refused to enforce a settlement obtained by fraudulent means. The panel’s decision shut the courthouse door to a solid claim that Facebook obtained this settlement by committing securities fraud. Our petition asks the full 9th Circuit to reopen that door.’
Officials at Facebook were not available for comment on the Winklevosses’ latest appeal.
[Updated 10:32 a.m., April 19, 2011: Andrew Noyes, a Facebook spokesman, declined to comment specifically on the Winklevoss Twins’ latest petition, but did say in a statment: ‘We appreciate the Ninth Circuit’s careful consideration of this case and are pleased the court ruled in Facebook’s favor.’]
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles