After more than a decade of swearing that he was falsely accused of using performance enhancing drugs, Lance Armstrong finally came clean last month about his years of doping.
Yet Armstrong’s confession that he cheated his way to seven Tour de France victories between 1999 and 2005 rendered his two supposed nonfiction autobiographies – It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life (2000) and sequel Every Second Counts (2003) – complete works of fiction.
Such lies and distortion ruffled the feathers of a few California readers, who filed a class action lawsuit In the Eastern District of California on Jan. 22 against Armstrong and his book’s publishers, Penguin Group, Putnam’s, Random House, Berkley Publishing, Broadway Books, and Crown Publishing. (full text of the filing after the jump)
Political consultant Rob Stutzman and chef Jonathan Wheeler would not have spent money on the titles, they allege in the suit had they known “the true facts concerning Armstrong’s misconduct and his admitted involvement in a sports doping scandal that has led to his recent and ignominious public exposure.”
The suit also alleges that readers purchased the books “based upon the false belief that they were true and honest works of nonfiction when, in fact, Defendants knew or should have known that these books were works of fiction.”
But will readers be happy with just $25 back from their purchase price? If this suit survives summary judgment, keep a close eye on the plaintiffs’ request for “permissible damages.”
Although this lawsuit might seem a bit out of bounds, consider that authors who later confess to lying have paid out large settlements in the past.
According to the BBC, in 2006, author James Frey was sued by readers and his publisher after admitting he had “embellished” his addiction recovery memoir A Million Little Pieces.
Frey and Random House agreed a payout of $2.35 million. The publisher agreed to pay court fees, donate to charity and refund readers who purchased the book before news broke that it contained inaccuracies.