Thursday, December 16, 2010

Legal Action Begins Against Crown/Decision Points "Limited" Edition

A Dallas attorney, Republican, and George W. Bush supporter initiates pre-litigation inquiry.

by Stephen J. Gertz

Legal action against Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, for alleged deceptive trade practices regarding its limited edition of former President George W. Bush's book Decision Points has begun. A Dallas-based attorney, Mr. Grant Walsh, has sent a letter of intent to Crown. Booktryst has obtained a copy, which we reproduce in part:

Re: NOTICE TO PRESERVE EVIDENCE related to potential causes of action against The Crown Publishing Group, Random House, Inc., and their vendors and affiliates (collectively, “Crown”) regarding false and deceptive advertising for the “Limited Edition” version of Decision Points by President George W. Bush (the “Book”)

I have been contacted by a number of angry individuals—and potential clients—regarding the limited edition version of President George W. Bush’s Decision Points. In fact, I personally pre-ordered the Book in October 2010 based on the false and misleading statements by Crown, and I am extremely disappointed to learn that Crown has engaged in such deceptive actions regarding the true limited nature (or lack thereof) of the Book.

As you may recall, Crown issued a public press release dated April 26, 2010, in which the company made an affirmative representation that the book would be limited to just 1,000 printings. You were listed as the Crown’s point person in the press release. It is now my understanding that Crown’s public representations were patently false and misleading because at least 4,700 copies of the Book have been confirmed within the marketplace.

Under Texas law (as well as the statutes of virtually every state in the Union), Crown’s actions may constitute an unlawful and deceptive trade practice that may subject Crown to substantial legal and financial liability.

Notice of Potential Legal Action

Crown is hereby advised that I am in the process of investigating this matter to determine whether legal action is warranted against Crown for perpetrating a fraud upon the public and consumers of the Book.

Notice Regarding Preservation of Evidence

Crown (including its employees, agents, attorneys, vendors, and affiliates) must immediately suspend the normal retention and destruction policies for documents, communications (internal and external), electronically stored information, and tangible things. Further, Crown is instructed to preserve and retain all such records as they may relate to the marketing, manufacturing, publication, and sale of the “limited edition” printing of Decision Points by President George W. Bush. The failure to preserve and retain this information and documentary evidence may constitute “spoliation of evidence” and subject Crown to additional legal claims for damages or monetary sanctions.

If my ongoing investigation leads to litigation of my clients’ legal claims, I anticipate that I will serve a formal Request for Production on Crown and any other individuals or entities that may possess relevant evidence, documents, communications, electronically stored information, and tangible things. Thus, Crown has an obligation to take reasonable steps to ensure that all relevant evidence, documents, electronically stored information, and tangible things are safeguarded and preserved until the resolution of this legal matter. 

When you announce a print run of 1,000 copies at $350 each, then up the print run to 4,700 without notice of any kind nor reduction in price, people will get angry. Mr. Walsh invites all who may wish to join this claim to contact him.

Crown Offers Rebate to Supplement Existing Refund

Crown Sr. V.P., Exec. Director Publicity, David Drake,  could not comment upon ongoing legal issues but did notify Booktryst about a rebate program that Crown has  initiated within the last 48 hrs, subsequent, it appears, to receiving Mr. Walsh's legal notice.

"We have posted a notice to consumers on the Crown Publishing Group website which provides full details on how consumers can apply for a rebate. The notice to consumers includes a link to a Rebate Request / Declaration form that consumers must complete and return to Random House by June 30, 2011 along with a proof of purchase (either receipt; copy of credit card statement showing charge; or copy of check that was used to purchase the limited edition). The Rebate Request / Declaration is housed on our server here.

"There is no corresponding deadline for refund requests.

"Random House Customer Service will also be sending an email tomorrow to all consumers who purchased the limited edition directly from Random House, notifying them of the rebate. Customers who purchased the limited edition of Decision Points directly from Random House will not be required to provide a proof of purchase to apply for a rebate.

"Under this rebate offer, Crown will issue consumers a rebate from the full purchase price (including sales tax) paid for the book, not to exceed the publisher’s list price of $350, so that the resulting net purchase price will be $50.00. By way of example, if the book was purchased for $200, a rebate check for $150, plus any amount paid in sales tax, will be issued."

In short, buyers of the limited edition will have their purchase price discounted to net $50 with the rebate. We are pleased that Crown has initiated this rebate program. Whether  based upon our suggestion in a prior post or otherwise it's the right thing to do.

Booktryst's coverage of this sorry saga began on November 11, 2010.

1 comment:

  1. are these books actually signed by GW or are they autopen signatures I would like to see some images of other purchasers signatures from the me


Subscribe to BOOKTRYST by Email