Of Dope and Dupes
by Dan O'Connor
As MobyLives reported on Tuesday, a library worker in suburban Sydney, Australia, posted a public notice that Lance Armstrongâ€™s books —Â Lance Armstrong: Images of a Champion, The Lance Armstrong Performance Program and Lance Armstrong: Worldâ€™s Greatest ChampionÂ — would henceforth be reclassified as fiction. It was meant to be a joke, but all hell broke loose.
There will always be some people who will take what was supposed to be a joke too far. On Tuesday, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, in Sacramento, Republican political consultant Rob StutzmanÂ and chief Jonathan WheelerÂ filed a class action suitÂ against Armstrong — and several notable co-defendants, including Penguin Group (USA), Inc., G.P. Putnam’s Sons, The Berkley Publishing Group, Random House, Inc., Broadway Books and Crown Publishing GroupÂ —Â alleging â€śunfair business practices, fraud, false advertising and deceit.â€ť
Al.comÂ reported this morning that the suit has already been joined by more than 100 plaintiffs seeking more than $5 million in damages;Â examiner.com notes that the suit seeks attorneyâ€™s fees and refunds â€śfor CaliforniaÂ customers who purchased the book.â€ť (italics added)
No doubt other suits in other states will follow.
Random House faced similar legal troubles after questions about the veracity of James Freyâ€™s memoir-cum-novel A Million Little Pieces prompted lawsuits from disillusioned readers. In 2006 the suits were settled when Random House agreed to refund the price of the books.
According to Tuesdayâ€™s filing, quoted in the L.A. Times, â€śalthough Stutzman does not buy or read many books, he found Armstrongâ€™s book [It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life] incredibly compelling â€¦â€ť He â€śread it cover to cover.â€ť
Back in October, on ESPN.com, Tim Keown wrote:
It’s possible to draw a parallel between Armstrong andÂ Arnold Schwarzenegger, who used steroids to become a champion bodybuilder, bodybuilding to become a famous actor and acting to become the governor of California. Then, later in life, he had the audacity to preach to kids about the dangers of steroid use. Rarely does irony arrive stacked that high.
How about this? Rob Stutzman was Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Dan O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Melville House.