Lance Armstrong sued for fraud over memoirs

"Luke's name is Armstrong and people know that name, and when he goes to school I don't want them to say, 'Oh yeah, your dad's the big fake, the doper.' That would just kill me." - from his second autobiography, "Every Second Counts," in 2003. Photo: Lance Armstrong talks with his son Luke while one of his daughter's and wife Kristin look on at the end of the 20th and last stage of the 90th Tour de France cycling race between Ville d'Avray and Paris Champs Elysees, 27 July 2003. Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

Piling onto Lance Armstrong's post-doping confession downfall, two California men filed a class-action complaint in federal court in Sacramento, claiming the disgraced cycling star's memoirs, billed as non-fiction, were filled with lies, according to multiple reports.

The named plaintiffs in the suit were Rob Stutzman, a public relations executive who served as a deputy chief of staff for former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jonathan Wheeler, a chef and amateur cyclist, Reuters reports.

The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, said they and others "would not have purchased the books had they known the true facts concerning Armstrong's misconduct and his admitted involvement in a sports doping scandal," according to the Los Angeles Times.

Also named in the suit are several book publishers who produced Armstrong's books, the Times reports. Armstrong and his publishers are accused of violating consumer protection laws on false advertising and fraud by selling the books as works of non-fiction.

Armstrong's memoirs "It's Not About the Bike" and "Every Second Counts" recount battling through cancer, raising a family, and conquering the cycling world. Both were written with current Washington Post sports journalist Sally Jenkins, who has said in light of his confession that she was most mad about hearing of his doping through other people, and not him directly.

In the lawsuit over the books, Stutzman and Wheeler said they felt "duped," "cheated" and "betrayed" by the realization that the books, marketed as inspirational true-life memoirs, were replete with fabrications, Reuters reports.

A similar lawsuit was filed in 2011 against Greg Mortenson, co-author of the best seller "Three Cups of Tea," accusing him of fabricating much of his story about promoting education for impoverished girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan, following a damning report on "60 Minutes". (Watch the segment at left.)

That suit, which alleged fraud and unjust enrichment, was dismissed last year by a federal judge in Montana, Reuters reports.

However, in 2007, author James Frey and his publisher settled a similar lawsuit over his alleged memoir, "A Million Little Pieces" after 1,729 readers claimed fraud.

The publishing company Random House was forced to pay $27,348 in refunds to the readers, $180,000 to charity, and $1 million in legal expenses, according to Poets & Writers magazine.

During the trial, Frey's lawyers revealed the author had been paid $4.4 million in royalties.

In an interesting convergence, Frey's memoir had been a onetime favorite of Oprah Winfrey, and he ended up going on her show to infamously answer angry questions from the TV host about lying over the veracity of parts of his story. It was also to Oprah that Armstrong confessed to doping for the first time.

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