January 31, 2006 10:00 AM

In class-action suits filed in Manhattan Monday, publishers Random House and Nan Talese are being accused of gross negligence for their role in James Frey’s embattled memoir A Million Little Pieces – or rather, for their failure to act properly and fact-check Frey’s reputed “brutally honest” account of his alcohol- and drug addictions.

This includes Frey’s published claim that he spent 87 days in jail, a report since exposed – first by the Smoking Gun Web site, then by Frey himself when confronted by Oprah Winfrey last Thursday – as a lie.

“All they had to do was call the Department of Corrections to verify that this guy was never in jail,” Alan Ripka, attorney for plaintiffs Jimmy Floyd and Susan Gardiner, tells New York’s Daily News.

But theirs is not the only suit. Social worker Jennifer Cohn is seeking $10 million on behalf of consumers she claims were injured by Frey’s lies after she recommended the book to those with substance-abuse problems because of its “redemptive theme,” says the Daily News.

Other such suits have been filed by disgruntled readers in Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles.

There has been no comment from Frey, Random House or Talese.

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