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One of the lawyers in the case is Larry Drury, who also represented plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against James Frey, who admitted on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” that he lied in his memoir “A Million Little Pieces.”

That lawsuit ended in a settlement that offered refunds to buyers of the book.

Drury and fellow plaintiffs’ attorney Alexander Blewett say the Mortenson and Frey cases “are stunningly close.”

Mortenson and Penguin don’t argue that the events in the books are true, though the publisher says that nobody can rely on the truth or accuracy of autobiographies because they are based on the authors’ own recollections.

Both Mortenson and Penguin argue that the plaintiffs can’t prove that they were actually injured by anything that was written in the books and that this lawsuit amounts to a threat to free speech.

Mortenson attorney John Kauffman says in his court filing that such lawsuits could be filed only to discourage certain authors from writing about topics and it would stifle the free exchange of ideas.

Penguin attorney F. Matthew Ralph says that if a publisher were required to guarantee the truth and accuracy of everything an author says, the costs of publishing books would be prohibitive.

“No standards exist for drawing the line where ‘fiction’ becomes ‘nonfiction’ or vice versa; and the courts are not a proper place for developing such standards or policing that line,” Ralph wrote.