Lawyer in lawsuit against Pres. Carter responds
David Schoen, one of the lawyers who filed a class action lawsuit Tuesday against former president Jimmy Carter and the publisher Simon & Schuster, responded to an item about the complaint posted on Political Bookworm. The suit alleges that Carter’s 2006 book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” was marketed as a work of non-fiction but is, in fact, “filled with demonstrable falsehoods, omissions, and knowing misrepresentations intended to promote Carter’s agenda of anti-Israel propaganda.”
Simon & Schuster, the book’s publisher, called the lawsuit “frivolous,” “without merit” and “a chilling attack on free speech.”
Political Bookworm wrote about the lawsuit on Wednesday. In an email, Schoen said:
It is not a matter of these 5 plaintiffs seeking $5 million based on their purchase of a $27 book. They are merely class representatives. There is no way to know how much in damages the class members will be entitled to if they prevail until we can know how big the class is. We will only know that after discovery from the defendants; but it was a best-seller I believe. Plaintiffs also seek punitive damages based on the knowing and intentional nature of their conduct. Remember, [Simon & Schuster] was contacted directly well in advance of this and they were presented with lists of the factual inaccuracies and misrepresentations ... The response was nothing other than Carter's re-invigorated campaign expressly telling the audience that everything in the book is absolutely true as written.
Mr. Carter is entitled to write or say anything in the world that he wants, no matter how false, about Israel or any other subject. But you can be sure [Simon & Schuster] had a purpose in marketing it as a work of non-fiction that purports to depict these events as they actually happened and then encouraged people to buy the book on that basis. That was not a true representation of what the book is, but they profited on that, knowing that it was not what they said. If they wanted to market a Carter novel, recounting things the way he would like them to be, that would have appealed to a different audience. No one suggests any speech should be suppressed. But if they tricked people into buying the book based on false marketing, they should repay the purchase price…
It is odd for [Simon & Schuster] to take a self-righteous position or try to make it a free speech issue. I am an absolutist on free speech and have a record of 25 years as a civil rights lawyer in the South and I would welcome you to read what the [American Bar Association] has written about my work. This has nothing to do with free speech or chilling anything — other than perhaps phony/false advertising and I am not sure who has an interest in allowing that. I even voted or Carter, by the way.
(Photo by Erik S. Lesser/AP)
| February 4, 2011; 2:36 PM ET
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