February 28, 2011 / 4:26 PM / 8 years ago

"Big Short" author Lewis sued for defamation

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Michael Lewis, best-selling author of “The Big Short” about the mortgage meltdown, has been sued for defamation by an asset manager featured in the book.

Other targets in the lawsuit are Lewis’ publisher W.W. Norton & Company and prominent hedge fund manager Steven Eisman of FrontPoint Partners LLC in Connecticut, one of the sources for Lewis’ book.

Wing Chau and his firm Harding Advisory LLC believe Lewis made “false and defamatory” statements in the book “and want to redress that wrong,” according to the lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court on Friday and made public on Monday.

Lewis and the publisher W.W. Norton & Company said they had not yet been served with the complaint.

“Suits like this one are an unfortunate fact of life in our industry, particularly when a book is as successful as this one has been,” W.W. Norton chairman and president Drake McFeely said in an email. “We stand by Mr. Lewis and his book The Big Short, and, assuming that Mr. Chau’s suit has been filed, we expect that it will be dismissed.”

Eisman said he had not received any notice of being sued and could not comment.

“In sharing the purported insider’s view of the mortgage market meltdown, Lewis made false and defamatory statements about an experienced investment professional, Wing Chau, and his firm, Harding Advisory LLC,” the lawsuit said.

It said the book portrays Eisman as a “heroic” figure who foresaw the collapse of the market and made a fortune betting against it. In contrast, Chau and other managers with expertise in collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) were “villains” who “were according to Lewis, responsible for the crisis,” the court document said.

Chau seeks unspecified damages against all the defendants and punitive damages.

The full title of the book is “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine.” It was published in March 2010 and spent six weeks as No. 1 on The New York Times list of hardcover nonfiction bestsellers.

The case is Wing Chau and Harding Advisory LLC v Michael Lewis, Steven Eisman and W.W. Norton & Company Inc, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 11-1333.

Reporting by Grant McCool; Editing by Matthew Lewis, Bernard Orr

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