Book Publisher To Face A Million Little Claims?

When the publisher of “A Million Little Pieces,” the best-selling memoir tainted by revelations of false and exaggerated accounts, decided to offer refunds to readers, we figured that any notion by trial lawyers to bring a class action would be defused. We were wrong.

We heard on the radio this morning that some lawyer was talking about bringing a class action for the time “wasted” by buyers reading a book they had been told was true. Not believing anything unless we read it on the internet, we learned from Reuters via Google that a Chicago woman already has filed a purported class action because she felt cheated.

Random House has said it would make refunds to buyers who bought the book directly from the publisher. The publisher also said that other buyers could take their books back to the bookstore where they made the purchase.

But apparently a refund isn’t enough for some people. And apparently some people don’t think the embarrassment and business disruption to everyone involved is enough to deter such future conduct. (Oprah apologized, apparently for having defended the author, in a live broadcast yesterday, which made the news networks and the front page of the Kansas City newspaper). Or perhaps it’s that a refund and a hard lesson taught to those involved don’t result in any legal fees. Whatever the case, the Frey episode doesn’t appear to be over. Could a suit against Oprah be next? She certainly has the primary qualification to be a defendant: deep pockets.

See our earlier discussion of the subject and some insurance considerations at James Frey fuss raises thoughts about negligence coverage in media liability policies .