Suing Lance Armstrong for Lying in His Books: the Hurdle of Specificity and Plausibility under FRCP Pleading Rules?
The lawsuit filed against Lance Armstrong for lying in his books: a gift to civil procedure professors working through heightened pleading requirements of FRCP 9(b) and Twombly-Iqbal. This morning, NPR’s Only a Game show featured a “lawsuit of the week” segment. With some laughter, the host talked about how two individuals filed a class action suit against Lance Armstrong and his publisher. The complaint alleges that defendants defrauded the class into buying Armstrong’s books and seek remedy for being tricked into believing he was a champion. The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff class would not have bought the book had they known it contained lies about Armstrong’s doping.
This case sounds a whole lot like litigation brought against Three Cups of Tea author Greg Mortenson, his co-author, their publisher, and marketing consultants after plaintiffs discovered that the book lied about Mortenson’s humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan. Long story short, the complaint alleged that Mortenson tricked readers into thinking he was a hero and he really wasn’t. As the federal district court Judge Hannon explained in his opinion and order on defendants’ motion to dismiss:
Plaintiffs contended they purchased one or more of Mortenson’s books for approximately $15 each. They claim that the books should not be categorized as nonfiction, as a number of misstatements relating to their contents have surfaced, and that Mortenson, Relin, MC, CAI, and Penguin entered into a fraudulent scheme to falsely portray Mortenson as a hero in order to boost book sales.
The complaint asserted claims for RICO, fraud, breach of contract, implied contract, unjust enrichment, among others. Plaintiffs had amended their complaint three times before defendants moved to dismiss. As the motion was pending, the court allowed plaintiffs to amend the complaint for a fourth time. Defendants moved to dismiss on the grounds that the complaint failed “(1) to plead fraudulent activity with particularity, (2) meet plausibility standards, (3) plead necessary elements, and (4) allege cognizable injuries.” Read More