Readers Sue Lance Armstrong After Doping Admission
By Lateef Mungin, CNN
(CNN) — Rob Stutzman doesn’t buy too many books.
But he not only read Lance Armstrong’s best-seller “It’s Not About the Bike” cover to cover, he also recommended it to several friends.
Now, the public affairs consultant from Sacramento, California, wants his money back — and he wants the disgraced cyclist to pony up.
Stutzman is part of a class action lawsuit against Armstrong and his book publishers accusing them of peddling fiction as fact.
Joining Stutzman is a Sacramento chef and cycling enthusiast, Jonathan Wheeler, who says he too was moved and inspired by the Armstrong book.
The lawsuit, filed this week in federal court in California, also mentions Armstrong’s other book, “Every Second Counts,” and accuses the cyclist and his publishers of fraud and false advertising.
“Throughout the book, Defendant Armstrong repeatedly denies that ever used banned substances before or during his professional cycling career,” the suit says.
And the pair bought the book “based upon the false belief that they were true and honest works of nonfiction when, in fact, Defendants knew or should have known that these books were works of fiction.”
The suit may just be the tip of the iceberg.
After years of vehemently denying that he used drugs to boost his performance during his record seven Tour de France wins, Armstrong confessed to talk show host Oprah Winfrey last week that he lied.
His virtually tearless admission of doping could likely have litigants lining up against him like cyclists at the start of the Tour de France.
Already several are suing or say they will sue.
The new federal lawsuit does not specify how much Stutzman and Wheeler are seeking.
But it does ask for “any statutorily permissible damages, attorneys’ fees, expenses and costs.”
In other words, a lot more than the price of the book.
Stutzman, who is a former deputy chief of staff for former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, said he was duped into reading Armstrong’s book, drawn in by the cyclist’s compelling life story.
And the lawsuit says he even met Armstrong years before the confession.
“At that time, Stutzman thanked Defandant Armstrong for writing his book and told him it was very inspiring and that he recommended it to friends who were fighting cancer,” the lawsuit said. “In response, Armstrong thanked Stutzman.”
Had they known Armstrong’s accounts were lies, the suit says, they wouldn’t have bought the book — or they’d have enjoyed it less.