Penguin and its subsidiary Author Solutions have filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against them that alleges fraudulent business practices. The suit, filed at the end of April by three Author Solutions clients, asks for $5 million in damages, and seeks class action status.
It alleges that Author Solutions misrepresents itself as a publisher, luring authors in with claims of “greater speed, higher royalties, and more control for its authors,” only to profit from upselling services that “fail to accomplish what they promise.” The suit also alleges that Author Solutions fails to pay its authors the royalties they are due.
In its motion to dismiss, Penguin attorneys offer a long list of legal and procedural issues for dismissal, as is common practice, and deem the complaint “a misguided attempt to make a federal class action out of a series of gripes.”
The motion also seeks to sever parent company Penguin, noting that “no specific misconduct” by Penguin is alleged. The motion says the case boils down to “alleged typographical and formatting errors and supposed delays in publishing their books,” and some “alleged errors associated with royalty payments owed” on some of the plaintiffs books published under Author Solutions imprints.
The plaintiffs may pursue "individual claims," Penguin attorneys argue, noting that the issues are contract issues "and nothing more," based upon "supposed errors, delays, or underpayments.” The remainder of the complaint and any potential class action, the motion states, should be dismissed.
In an interesting twist, the suit was filed in the Southern District of New York, and is before a judge that recently got a crash course in the publishing business—Judge Denise Cote, who just last week wrapped up Apple’s e-book price-fixing trial scandal.
In July of last year Penguin purchased Author Solutions for a reported $116 million and the complaint puts the Authors Soutions' annual revenue at over $100 million. Author Solutions also partners with other publishers, including a deal with Simon and Schuster’s Archway Books.