Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against PublishAmerica

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

I can’t count the number of questions I’ve received over the years from unhappy PublishAmerica authors, wondering whether a class action lawsuit against PA has been/might be/ever will be filed. Frankly, I would have bet against it, given the cost, the difficulty of gathering plaintiffs, and the ambiguities of PA’s business model.

Now I get to eat my words.

On June 11, 2012, a class action summons and complaint was filed in Maryland District Court in Baltimore against PublishAmerica LLLP, by plaintiffs Darla Yoos, Edwin McCall, and Kerry Levine (Case Number 12-cv-1696). The full complaint can be viewed here. Attachments include the contracts for the three plaintiffs.

Quoting from the Introduction to the complaint–this will all sound very familiar to long-time PA observers:

Defendant PublishAmerica is a book publisher that  portrays itself as “a traditional, royalty paying publisher.” But unlike traditional publishers, which profit from the sale of books, defendant profits from its own clients, i.e., the authors who submit works for publication by defendant. Defendant lures these authors in by promising to publish their book at no cost, and it makes false and misleading representations that it will promote their books and support the authors’ efforts to sell their own books. But this is not the case.

Instead, once the authors sign the contract, which gives defendant the rights to their book for seven to ten years, defendant does nothing constructive to promote their books, but instead offers various promotion packages on a fee-for-service basis….These services, which are either misrepresented or never carried out, are not reasonably designed to promote class members’ books….

Defendant provides very poor editing services, is slow to respond to book orders, and it routinely overprices the books it publishes. This is no accident. Defendant will only lower the price of its clients’ books to a competitive rate for a $399 fee. These practices make it difficult for even the most enterprising authors to promote their own books.

Defendant is not responsive to inquiries from its clients, or worse it is dismissive or belligerent.

Like plaintiffs, thousands of other aspiring authors who signed up with PublishAmerica have become demoralized because the publishing contract appears to be little more than a pretext for selling dubious services…These authors also feel trapped because PublishAmerica owns the rights to their books for seven to ten years. This presents a Hobson’s choice for the authors: either throw good money after bad for suspect promotional services or abandon the book that was a labor of love.

The complaint–which demonstrates an extensive research process by the lawyers–is long, but worth reading in its entirety. Among other things, it alleges that PA makes money off its authors while billing itself as a traditional publisher, requires authors to pay for “usual and customary marketing that any reputable publisher would do as a matter of course,” offers “services that are not reasonably designed to promote book sales” (the complaint includes numerous examples of PA’s marketing solicitations, including the “Hey Amazon” banner I noted in my recent BEA Report, for which authors had to pay $99), removes negative comments from its website and “attacks the credibility of its detractors,” and “duped” the three plaintiffs with, among other things, “bogus services” and books “riddled with errors.”

The complaint seeks “a declarative judgment that defendant’s publishing contracts violate the Maryland Consumer Protection Act,” including the MCPA’s prohibition against deceptive trade practices. It asks the court to certify the class action, return publication rights to the three plaintiffs and other members of the class who so desire, allow plaintiffs and the class to recover damages, allow plaintiffs and the class to recover the costs of the suit, require PublishAmerica to pay restitution to the defendants and the class, and grant “further relief as may be determined to be just,” including punitive damages.

A jury trial is demanded.

Per PACER, a Notice of Appearance for the plaintiffs was filed electronically on June 12 by John B. Isbister of Tydings & Rosenberg LLP (a Baltimore law firm). The complaint also mentions Daniel S Katz of the same firm.

Interestingly, the complaint is also signed by Steve Berman and Barbara Mahoney of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, a high-profile Seattle law firm involved, among other things, with the recent ebook price-fixing litigation against Apple and several Big Six publishers. The complaint notes that a pro hac vice motion has yet to be filed for Berman and Mahoney (this is a motion by an attorney in a given jurisdiction to admit an attorney not licensed in that jurisdiction to a case), and such motions aren’t always granted–but Hagens Berman’s presence in the case confirms that this is no frivolous endeavor, and suggests that big guns will shortly be turned PublishAmerica’s way.

I’ll be following this as it develops.

EDITED TO ADD: I’m getting lots of questions about how to participate in the lawsuit. I don’t know the answer, but I’d suggest that authors contact the law firm that’s acting for the plaintiffs:

Tydings & Rosenberg, LLC
100 East Pratt Street, 26th Floor
Baltimore MD 21202
Telephone: 410-792-9714

EDITED TO ADD: Hagens Berman now has information on its website about the PA lawsuit, with contact information for the firm:

Authors who believe they may qualify as part of the proposed class may contact Hagens Berman by calling (206) 623-7292 or by emailing the firm at publishAmerica@hbsslaw.com. You can also contact the firm online by clicking here.

EDITED 9/12 TO ADD: The lawsuit has been dismissed. See my followup post.

45 comments to Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against PublishAmerica

  • Victoria:

    I think that anyone wishing to be included in the lawsuit send a letter to the law firm explaining why they are part of the class. They are unlikely to need any more named plaintiffs, but they might need more evidence that there are members of the class.

    Generally, the lawyers will try to ascertain who the other victims of PA are and they will eventually get a letter asking them to be considered part of the class or to opt out because they might want to have their own attorney file a separate law suit or they might not have a complaint (hah!)

    In truth, most of the class members will see very little recovery, but they might get the rights to their manuscripts back. With the Google decision allowing copyright owners and creators to have class status, this case might benefit.

    Keep up the good work.

    Best,
    Christine

  • Victoria Strauss

    Thanks for the advice, Christine.

  • I’m glad someone’s suing them. But wouldn’t it have been easier to do research in the beginning, see that they grossly inflate the prices of their books, and check with some of their authors? This is something you must do with all publishers (and even agents).

  • Victoria Strauss

    Agreed, Lexa. And there’s tons of negative information out there about PA that’s very easy to find. I’m glad this suit is happening, and I’m impressed that such a major law firm has taken it on…but I think the outcome is anyone’s guess.

  • Frank

    Welcome and way-overdue news. Take a bow, Victoria. You helped shine a light on those miscreants as much or more than anyone.

    Here’s to a HUGE judgement in favour of the plaintiffs.

  • Jeannine

    Ditto what Frank said.

  • Tracy

    Will all PublishAmerica authors be contacted to join the lawsuit? My husband wrote a children’s book through them and he complained verbally over the telephone to PublishAmerica, but not to the BBB. We are in Texas and he never received any royalties with the clause on his account summary that stated, “PublishAmerica does not issue royalty checks for any amount under $50″. We very much regret not checking with BBB first.

  • Victoria Strauss

    Tracy–to be included in the lawsuit, you need to contact the law firm–they are looking for more class members, but won’t be contacting them themselves. It’s up to the author to get in touch. The contact info is in my post, above.

  • John Loria

    Hi,
    I read some complaints about Publish America, and I would like to join in the other authors.
    It is a shame that talented writers had to be lured and robbed by these cripminal corporations.
    America has enough of all these online criminals. I hope the the heroic law firm that is taking this case will bring these dishonest people to justice,
    John Loria.

    Please bring me up to date, thanks.

  • James O.Booze jr

    My name is James I have two contracts with publish and all i have received from them on any question or concernsis delayed answers or no response at all i have received no royaltiesoff eitherbook that has been for public sell buy special order online only! The only things i have received from publisher America is a lot of usless promotional junk that i don’t want to pay for . So i was reading the stories that other authors have put on here and i would love to be able to join the class and help get this issue along with other authors issues with this publisher resolved. Thanks. James.

  • James O.Boone jr

    Sorry phone has spell check and don’t recognize half the English language lol my last name is boone

  • Kathy Arboleya

    I don’t know about other PA authors, but I just want the rights to my book BACK!! I was new to the world of publishing and was taken advantage of. They really need to be stopped.

  • Ruthie Smith

    Like an Idiot, I was just to happy to have my two books Published in August of 2010, all the money I have received is $1.00 in Royalties from each book when they first published my books. I should have researched them more, but I would like to join the lawsuit and I will be calling Hagen Berman in the morning. None of the Books people send in are Copywrighted like they promised, they done nothing like they promised, PA is a sorry publishing company and they like to argue with me.

  • Andrew Walter Jackson

    About two months ago, I signed up for the Ohio Promotion and paid for it. I have (4) books published through them. I wanted them to promote the very book I felt would sell really well because it was a patriotic type book. I have yet hear from them. I did write to the Author Support team and got a response and then the promotional team contacted me saying that they were doing prsentations now. But, here’s the messed up thing, this “so called” team doesn’t even have a return email accept “noreply” on their email address. My first book Heroes Sing has been out for almost two years and I haven’t made a cent on that book, but yet all of my books are on all the websites. This is not right. I would have been better off going through a subsidy publisher.

  • Dawn Nelson

    I wrote a book of poetry for Publish America, than they approached me to ask me to write a autobiography. I wrote the autobiography which they gave me a mere 6 months to write, which is difficult since it did cover the span of my life. When I sent it in for the final time, I was excited. When I got a copy of the book I almost choked at all the typos! They were NOT my typo’s someone actually changed the word ‘through’ to ‘thru’ all the way through the book. I contacted them immediately about the errors and they would not take any responsibility. Instead they suggested I purchase their editing services! I definitely will be a part of this class action just to get my book back from these robbers!

  • I have two books published with PA, one a bestseller, and I’ve never received a royalty check. I recently received an email from them informing me I could have the rights to my book back if I paid their fee. Everything with PA involves a fee of some sort. I’m happy someone is finally standing up to them. I would love to be a part of this lawsuit if it isn’t too late.

  • I published a book with PublishAmerica. For several years I got only one royalty check. Then lately they asked me get out of the contract for a fee. I did not respond. I am glad someone is bringing them to justice. Please I want to be a part of the class action lawsuit.

  • Victoria Strauss

    Hubert–this lawsuit was dismissed a while ago. However, another one was recently filed: see my blog post. There’s contact info for the lawyers who are leading the suit.

  • I have two novels published by publishamerica, Sworn not to betray. Also my second novel A silent killer within. I’ve only recieved two royalty statements since the release of both my novels. Both statements were to inform me I hadn’t reached the required 49:00 amount which would allow me to begi n recieving my annual royalties from each six month royalty period. Sworn not to betray was released Janurary 3rd 2011, my second novel was released November 12th same year. the last statments I recieved from publishamerica was August 2011 and Feburary 2012. since the time of those two intervals. I havent recieved anything from publishamerica regarding the royalties from either book. Sworn not to betray has sold quite a few copies since it’s release and selling right now on Amazon It was just given a five and four star review. So far I haven’t heard anything regarding this months royalty period. Six months is a long time to wait just to be told you haven’t sold any books, when you have evidence to the contrary. People are ordering Sworn not to betray right now! And have ordered several leading up to this month’s royalty period. I don’t understand how this company are being allowed to get away with what they are doing to people who are trying to simply fulfill their dream. I just submitted my third novel to a different publisher. If someone was able to asses the records of Amazon.com dating back to the release of Sworn not betray the records will speak for themselve in relation how many copies have been sold since the date of it’s release. I haven’t recieved one dime of the royalties my novel has earned.

  • I hope publishamerica is finally stopped what they are getting away is truly ludicrous. We’ve worked hard to become aspiring authors just to be ripped off by someone who has personal vendetta because of his own failed attempt to become an author.

  • Ed Buhrer

    I have published six novels with PA. At first, I was actually given an editor who read the WHOLE novel, gave me good feedback, and stayed with me until publication. Once I had one book published with them, the “editing” became nothing more than some hired flunky converting the book to their format. Also, all my books have turned up on other booksellers’ websites, but the publisher listed was LIGHTNING SOURCE, which is the company PA contracts with to do the actual publishing, and I have long suspected that that company sells my books to those other sellers, for which I get no royalties. Let’s cut to the chase: I now have 14 e-books for Kindles, etc. with Amazon and make more money on a sale than I ever did with PA. For example, if someone was crazy enough to buy one of my PA books for the inflated and ridiculous price of $24.95, my royalty was something like $1.17. If someone gets one of my Kindle books for 3.99, I make 2.70. All PA ever did was send me constant rip-off “offers” with “FREE” shipping or “YOUR BOOK FOR ONLY A DIME!” but no matter the offer, the cost per copy was always around ten bucks. I no longer deal with PA since they changed their contract to no royalties until they totaled around fifty bucks, which was created to encourage us to either buy our own books (which usually did NOT include royalty credit) or to get friends to buy the books. They also originally gave authors complimentary copies, as REAL publishers do; that stopped a long time ago.

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  • This will be the fourth royalty which has passed and still no word from publisamerica, concerning sales of either of my novels. I can’t even contact them via email or phone. All there email addresses appear to be blocked except the ones that send the authors those bogus promo ads. I haven’t heard from them otherwise, regarding the royalties for either of my books, its so fustrating to say the least,I don’t know how they are able to get away with what they are getting away with it’s utterly ludicrous.They appear to be above the law in the state of Maryland.

  • Does this mean we have no protection against Publish America ? They just keep making money from sales of books written by obviously many, many others, whom also complained. Not to mention, we have been robbed obviously of very much money then and still !! There are dozens of websites selling my book, I have found them via the net, as could anyone (just Google and put in my book’s title)”Michigan Madness”. I don’t know how other contracts were written, but mine said two checks a year from my interest (being a mere 8%)I did receive a .95 cents, of which I never cashed and saved with my contract !! And have since been waiting for another check, but why? My book was published in 2009 !! There has to be a way for all of us cheated to win in a courtroom !! I will continue to search for ‘the’ way to get what we have earned !! Those words came from my heart, they are apart of me, and choosing to put it out there to be read wasn’t easy !! Sincerely, Bettye I. Turnbo 8/6/13

  • What we have to start doing I believe is what I did a few days ago. I logged onto a local news station in Baltimore and sent them an email concerning what publishamerica is doing and getting away with. I also emailed NBC Today, we need to get enough authors to begin taking this type of action to bring outside attention to this horrendous act of extortion, fraud and con that publishamerica has been getting away for far too long! I’m going to contact every t.v. news and radio station, I can to shed some light on publishamerica. And if enough of us begin doing this whom they have been ripped off eventually it’ll catch up with Mr Clopper and his employees.

  • Juanita Figueroa

    Since June 2012 I have received over 179 emails from Publish America asking for money to promote my paperback Children’s book. They put it on Amazon for $22.46 not including tax and shipping.

  • I’m tired of writing to various websites regarding publishamerica and how they are ripping off and destroying the dreams of alot of aspiring authors and noone seems willing to do anything about it. I think collectively, we as publishamerica authors have got to stop self promoting our own books. This could help in slowing down the insidious and unethical practices of publishamerica. especially being they are the only who is benefitting from our efforts of trying to sell and bring recognition to our work. We have nothing to lose especially if they are lying continously about the sales of books and keeping all the royalties. They just recently sent me a statement proclaiming my novel Sworn not to betray had no sells during the last year which is totally frabricated, being I have pictures of folks who have purchased my novel during the last year. If we stop self promoting our books for their benefit. I believe it would help slow them down cause generally that’s how our books are being sold, through our individualefforts! Rather it be flyers, word of mouth, etc.They are using us for the practice of their self indulgent greed. So we need to stop self promoting our own work,that way they won’t make money off of us and we’re not making none anyway! Think about it!

  • I am Latosha Pahn. The title of my book with Publish America is titled, To dream, to Hope, to Believe. I have not made one red cent from my book. It has been with the company for 4 years. I have been during career fairs at surrounding schools for years. Some of the schools have my book and many people see me in public and address me as Author, and many have purchased the book. Many have given me reviews on my book. I contacted Publish America since I have never received a royalty payment.They were very rude. They replied that, “If any of your books were sold, you would have received royalties.” I even explained that I have proof that people have been buying my book. Still no reply. On my contract, it states that I can ask for an advance on my account. I requested one. They never replied. I regret having my book with this company. I even ordered from myself, still no royalty check and that was 3 years ago. God will deal with these crooks. My book title stands behind its word. God bless and To Publish America; we were fair to you when you accepted our work, please, be fair to us in paying what we are owed.

  • Ruth (Wilcox) Wicks

    Ruth Wilcox (Wicks)
    January 25,2014

    In 2010, when Publish America accepted my two manuscripts and published them, I was brand new to the whole publishing process also. I have since had three more books published by a reputable publisher and I now know the difference! The rights to my first two books which were published by PA are tied up for another 3+ years, unless I buy them back! The work they did was so cheap,shoddy, and dissappointing. The paper they used was cheap and could easily be torn, the type set looked rediculous with huge blank areas on the blinding white pages. My original illustrations were vibrant and colorful, and what they produced were washed out and completely invisible in some areas. They were worse than if I had taken and xeroxed them some place myself.
    Every single report they have sent me for both books have stated that there have been no sales. I happen to KNOW of some purchases! In 2013 my mom ordered a book and did receive the book. So I thought I would put PA to the test. After me having to ASK them for my quarterly report, Publish America sent me the quarterly report for the OTHER book which stated there were no sales, but refused to send me the report for the book which my mom had bought. I’m sure they could see the purchase was made by a “Wilcox” (relative of mine) and knew that I KNEW about the sale, so they just flat out refused to send the report, even after I asked them over and over again for it. I even sent them the paragraph in my contract which obligates them to send the quarterly reports. But they refused. I contacted the BBB with a complaint. After a while I received an email from PA stating that they do not respond to the BBB. If they hid that one sale from me, how many other sales have they hidden from me? I have never received a single penny in royalties, except for the rediculous dollar they send in the beginning. Publish America is a fraud and a joke! They should be shut down and all rights of all of their authors returned to them. They LIE, they CHEAT, they STEAL, they BREACH their contracts! All I want are the rights to my books back so that I can have them published the right way. Now, their online bookstore site does not work, and their phone numbers are non-working.

  • Dont feel bad publisamerica has lied about the sales of both my novels since their release in 2011. My novel Sworn not to betray has sold steadily on Amazon since its release on Janurary 3rd 2011. and every royalty period I recieve a statement I recieve a statement saying I had no sales. What we have to do is stop self promoting our books for sales. We have to do this collectively as authors of this rogue company publishamerica. Also we all need to email our contact our major news outlets across America to shed light on the unethical practices of this rogue publisher. If enough complaints are brought to the attention of our major news outlets. Its my belief eventually an investigation will be launched against publishamerica. We can’t do it it appears in the state of Maryland it appears cause publishamerica appears to have alot of folks in their hip pocket. We need bring national attention to what they are doing and how they are destroying the aspirations of many apsiring authors. Can you send me the name of your publisher I would greatly appreciate it!

  • Following a successful publication, I easily created a student’s guide. Publish America, offered for a price to upgrade to hardcover. Paid it and no upgrade. Instead, I received the most insulting and unprofessional emails I could imagine. All saved. It was going to be great. Back on my feet, being an adjunct again, with all the accolades of a full professor. They made a mess of it. I’m on disability at 56.

    FYI: Interesting email from Star Books. I’ve tried to find out if PA is changing its spots. One of my degrees is Graphic Design. Please visit Zhibit.org.

    My curiosity was peeked, because I never heard of Starbooks, and its graphics, format, et., al., are all similar to Publish America.

  • The following email from America Star Books states PA is now after innocent foreigners.

    :If you are interested in signing and selling books in our booths, displaying books or posters, advertising your books in our booth, or simply finding out the best possible discount for copies of your book, please give me a call at 301-744-7643. The prices for these may vary, but I’d be happy to go over options that fall within your budget. I look forward to working with you soon!

    A reminder: America Star Books now owns PublishAmerica, but nothing has changed, only the name.

  • Peter, would you forward me that email, please, with all headers showing? (There should be an option to do this in your menu browser.) I’d like to follow up on it. All information shared with me in my Writer Beware capacity is held in confidence. My email is beware [at] sfwa.org. Thanks very much.

    - Victoria

  • Peter

    Thank you Victoria,

    There are quite a few. Would you write me at my email? It would be so much easier to just forward them all to you. I do mean just the relevant ones.

    Bye the bye, my second entry does not seem familiar, or at least in part. The whole paste did come through. The final conclusion is that Publish America is America Star Books.

    As an Author of excellent repute in Theosophy, and history, and as a past radio host, listened to in 64 countries, with colleagues from the US, Europe, Ukraine, and India, I shudder to think of the hapless souls subjected to PA’s petty theft. Please excuse the run on sentence.

    Sincerely,

    Peter

  • Peter

    Regarding second sentence above: The whole paste did come through.

    It should read, The whole paste did NOT come through.

  • I’ve been suggesting to everyone who has been or have become a victim of publishamerica, the best possible solution I believe we have to stop their roguish practice of destroying aspiring hopes and dreams is that all of us who have fell victim to the very unethical practices of this publisher is we all need to forward email to our major national news outlets, to bring national attention to what publishamerica is doing to people who struggling to become sucessful authors or writers. That’s the only way we are going to stop them. CNN, NBC, ABC, MSNBC,FOX News etc. My Novel Sworn not to betray has sold quite a few copies primarily on Amazon since it’s release Janurary 3rd 2011. Every royalty period after a very long six month wait I’ve recieved a statement from publishamerica stating I had no sales. I need help bringing national attention to how they are destroying the livelihood of hundreds of people who just trying to pursue their lifelong dreams. I can’t do it alone!

  • Any updates with PA’s name change to: American Star books? Same format; same emails, different name. I’m afraid, since they took money from me, did not provide the service, and on complaint, were hostile, unprofessional, and libelous, in a number of emails; anyone with new contacts or experience? Thanks in advance.

  • Victoria Strauss

    It’s the same exact company–only the name has changed (the new http://www.americastarbooks.com domain is registered to Willem Meiners). If you plug “America Star” (not “American Star) into the search blox here, my post on the name change should come up. There’s also a slightly different public mission, since PA/America Star is touting its ability to publish English-language translations of foreign-language books. But I don’t imagine that anything about the way it deals with authors will have changed.

  • They finally sent me a statement for my novel, Sworn not to betray so far that’s all I received. Don’t know if i’ll actually receive the check. I forwarded an email to them expressing my concern they never informed me they were changing ownership and name to this new publishing name. Now known As America star books. Beyond notice of said change they haven’t sent any forward contact information relating to support. They claim I missed the email information they claim to have sent regarding the change of publishing name.But the irony is I wasn’t able to contact anyone for well over a year. Emails were constantly rejected and sent back from department domain. Phone number was always disconnected. I believe the only reason I finally heard from them is because I was doing whatever I could to help shed light on the unethical practices they were getting away with.They also claim they set up a pay-pal account but I’ve spent well over a year trying to contact them to give them my new address. I’ll keep you informed to let you know if ever receive the little royalty check, it has taken them three years to send or if I’ll just end up framing the statement.

  • Victoria Strauss

    Darryl,

    They’re not under new ownership. The America Star Books URL is registered to Willem Meiners. It’s just a name change, and a slight shift of mission. Otherwise, everything, including staff, seems to be the same.

  • Jeremy Taylor

    In doing research I feel there is a fraudulent scam taking place. As many of Publish America Authors have expressed. I too am a Victim and I only published one book with Publish America. I do feel there are many aspects that constitute a Lawsuit against Publish America aka America Star books, though I do feel that more information needs to be gathered in order to shut down their operation. I have asked for my book rights to be returned and paid the fee and all I got was the run around, so I contacted the local news. My response from publish america was that I liked to the TV station and I was to offer an apology if not threatened to be sued! I ignored and mailed it to the news station haven’t heard anything back!

  • Mike

    Very interesting.. I as well have a book published by this company. I agree the promoting and support from them is Nil. There are a lot of Luring offers to send my book here, or there for a fee. On another note. It didnt cost me a cent to have it published, i have received royalty cheques. They like to get you on the special promo’s where we can purchase books for 1.99 free shipping etc.. I use this service and made it a positive. I purchase 50 books for 100.00 and sell all 50 for 15-20$ a piece. bringing me 750.00-1000.00 minus the 100 dolaars i paid. Thats higher than the royalties.

    There a good and bad things with the compnay.., At least we dont have to pay 1500 bux to get published and then this happens. its all free.

  • Tanya Butler

    I would definitely love to be a part of the lawsuit. I was promised to just like the other writers. I had written “I’ve Got A Story to TellYa! And I never got one red cent or the services that they had lied about. All I kept getting was a bunch of lies.The took cold advantage of me. Had the nerve to send me a check for $1.00! They took my pride of writing afterwards and mad me feel as though I could not trust anyone. I was sooo happy to be an author but they messed that up. Im still searching for my book. At one time they had posted it on their site with the isb number and now I cant find it and they act as though nothing has happened.
    they need to all go straight to jail for taking people hard earned cash and for giving nothing back but a bunck of lies….very wrong. Please add me to the suit cause I will come to court and tell exactly what they have done to me and all the other proud authors.

  • Victoria Strauss

    Tanya,

    As noted in the addendum to my post, the lawsuit has been dismissed. There’s a link above to my followup post.

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