Agreement Reached In James Frey Suits

author James Frey 2003/3/24
Memoirist James Frey and Random House, Inc. have agreed in principle to settle lawsuits filed by readers who said they were defrauded by fabrications in Frey's million-selling book, "A Million Little Pieces," the publisher said.

"I can confirm that we have an agreement in principle," David Drake, a spokesman for the Random House imprint Doubleday, said Thursday. "However, it requires court approval and may take several weeks and even months."

Readers who bought "A Million Little Pieces" on or before Jan. 26, the day Frey and his publisher acknowledged that he had made up parts of the book, would be eligible for a refund of the full suggested retail price, according to a person with detailed knowledge of the settlement, who provided background information on condition of anonymity because approval is still pending.

Manhattan federal court judge Richard J. Holwell consolidated the lawsuits in June. Lawyers for 10 of the 12 proposed representatives for the class-action suits have accepted terms of the settlement, which call on Frey and Random House to pay out no more than a total of $2.35 million. That sum covers the refund to consumers, plaintiffs' lawyers' fees and an unspecified donation to charity.

Under terms of the settlement, neither Frey nor the publisher has admitted any wrongdoing.

Reports of an imminent settlement first appeared on Radar online, a pop culture Web site.

To receive refunds — $23.95 for the hardcover, $14.95 for paperback — consumers will have to submit a receipt or some other proof of purchase: for the hardcover, page 163; for the paperback, the book's front cover. They also will have to sign a sworn statement that they bought the book because they believed it was a memoir.

Frey's book was a sensation after Oprah Winfrey chose it for her book club last fall. But in early January the Web site The Smoking Gun revealed that Frey's memoir of addiction and recovery contained numerous fabrications. Winfrey initially defended Frey, but soon changed her mind and berated him in person on her TV show.

Frey has also acknowledged extensive falsifications in a second memoir, "My Friend Leonard."