Austin-based cyclist and Oprah’s currently most-infamous interviewee, Lance Armstrong, was named as defendant in a class-action complaint filed Jan. 22, alleging, among other causes of action, consumer fraud.
The complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California also names six publishers of Armstrong’s books “It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life” and “Every Second Counts.”
Earlier this month, Armstrong acknowledged to Oprah on air that he had used performance enhancing drugs, despite years of his denying such cheating. The complaint states that the defendants “knew or should have known” that the books and their marketing materials, despite claims that Armstrong's writing was non-fiction, “were works of fiction.” The complaint alleges that consumers bought the books based on their “false belief” that they represented non-fiction. The named plaintiffs are Rob Stutzman, described as public relations specialist, who served as a deputy chief for former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jonathan Wheeler, a professional chef and cycling enthusiast. Both men, the complaint alleges, purchased Armstrong’s books, and Stutzman met and was inspired by Armstrong.
Kevin Rodd, a partner in Woodland, New Jersey’s Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, who represents the named plaintiffs, declines to comment about the case and says, “We decided to let the pleadings speak for themselves.” Tim Herman, a partner in Austin’s Howry Breen & Herman, who represents Armstrong, did not return a call by press time. Erica Glass, a spokeswoman for Penguin Group, declines comment.