Readers of Lance Armstrong's Book Sue for Refund

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on January 25, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Lance Armstrong apparently isn't pedaling back into America's good graces anytime soon. He's now being sued in a class action lawsuit by readers of his book. The suit accuses Armstrong and his publishers of muddling fact and fiction.

The bestselling book at the center of the lawsuit is entitled "It's Not About the Bike." But the suit also complains about another Armstrong book, "Every Second Counts."

The lawsuit was filed in California. According to CNN, the lawsuit states that the sale of the books was based on "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."

This lawsuit comes on the heels of Armstrong's public confession to Oprah Winfrey last week, that he lied about using performance-enhancing drugs during his seven Tour de France wins.

In "It's Not About the Bike," Armstrong repeatedly denies that he used banned substances before or during his professional career, reports the Los Angeles Times.

So can readers sue an author for pushing fiction as fact? If an author's works turn out to be false, is there a cause of action?

That's a tricky question that also came up last year when "Three Cups of Tea" author Greg Mortenson was sued for publishing fiction which he alleged was fact.

In Mortenson's case, the lawsuit was dismissed. In that suit, readers alleged that Mortenson and his publishers conspired to make him look like a hero in order to sell books.

The thing about lawsuits against authors is that they generally enjoy a certain degree of creative speech. The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, but when does this protection apply to fictional speech that masquerades as non-fiction?

In Mortenson's case, for example, the judge didn't seem to focus on the issue as to whether the story was true or not. In fact, the judge raised a very interesting question about the monetary value of a fictional story versus a true story: Would readers have purchased the same book if the story had been advertised as fiction?

The Lance Armstrong book lawsuit doesn't specify how much money the disgruntled readers are seeking. One of the plaintiffs is the former deputy chief of staff for ex-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, CNN reports.

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