Two readers in California are suing Lance Armstrong and his publishers on the basis that representing his memoirs as true and honest constituted false advertising. This could become a class action suit that would result in compensation for anybody who bought the two books in question (“It’s Not About the Bike,” and “Every Second Counts”).
As the Writer Beware blog points out, similar lawsuits have had varied outcomes.
A suit against Greg Mortenson, who has been accused of serious misrepresentations in “Three Cups of Tea,” was dismissed. Sadly, David Oliver Relin, his co-author, committed in November of last year. His lawyer said that the lawsuit had a negative effect on his livelihood as an author.
Random House and James Frey, whose memoir “A Million Little Pieces” turned out to contain some fictional little pieces, settled out of court.
Hyperion gave readers of the five “Beardstown Ladies’ Common-Sense Investment Guides” their choice of a free Hyperion book after it was shown that the rate of return of the Ladies’ investments was misrepresented.
It seems to me that it’s only in the latter case that there was a basis for a legal complaint, given that readers might have made investments based on their belief that the Ladies’ rate of return was higher than it was. If they had a big loss as a result, a free book wasn't much of a consolation.
For the others, including Armstrong, while it may be disappointing to find out that someone you trusted lied to you, isn’t that part of life? If such lawsuits are allowed, let’s start with the false claims and promises candidates make when they run for office. That would really keep the courts busy.