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Why Mark Zuckerberg is getting sued for ‘failing to live up to his promises’

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — A man who owned a home behind Mark Zuckerberg’s house is suing the Facebook founder for failing to live up to his promises. Zuckerberg’s lawyers are calling it extortion.

Mircea Voskerician, a real estate developer who had owned the property adjoining Zuckerberg’s backyard in 2012, had planned to start construction on a new mansion, according to court documents. Instead, Voskerician offered to sell some of his land so the Facebook CEO could gain more privacy.

Zuckerberg opted to buy the entire property, offering about $250,000. Voskerician rejected that deal. After receiving a $4.3 million offer on the property from another developer, Voskerician met with Zuckerberg’s financial advisors.

That’s when things got messy. At the meeting, Voskerician offered Zuckerberg a discount on the property, in exchange for introducing him to his Silicon Valley network of friends and associates and providing referrals to help boost his business.

In the end, Voskerician says he agreed to sell the land for $1.7 million “plus [Mr. Zuckerberg’s] promises of personal referrals and business promotion activities” — promises Voskerician claims Zuckerberg hasn’t kept.

Zuckerberg’s attorneys say there were never any concrete promises made, and Voskerician is using “extortive” measures, according to a Bloomberg report.

Zuckerberg may be trying to do what’s right for his personal life but his professional life is making that harder for him. If the agreement was made, one could say that a vote of confidence from one of the world’s biggest tech leaders is worth almost $3 million.

A trial date in a California state court is scheduled to be set next month.