Lance Armstrong finally comes clean. Manti Te’o acknowledges that his deceased girlfriend was a hoax. Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmero, and Roger Clemens are all believed to have lied about steroid usage. These stories make it seem that the lies, deception, and fraud are rampant. And perhaps they are, at least in the world of sports.
In the court of public opinion, getting caught in a lie is only a temporary problem for a star athlete — nothing a good public relations strategy can’t handle. Go on Oprah, or shed a tear with Barbara Walters, and the public is willing to forgive, or at least move on. The fans who once bought the athlete’s posters and paid for tickets to his sporting events don’t complain much. After all, they got the thrill of seeing their idol succeed, and later they find a way to rationalize the fallen idol’s redemption. It’s the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, from a slightly different perspective — the perspective of the guy in the bleachers.
But outside of the world of sports, things are different — they must be different. When a business executive spins a web of lies and deception, with an eye towards making an obscene profit, his victim’s problems don’t dissolve after a tearful public confession. The retiree who invested his life savings in the fraudulent investment is left destitute. When a salesman makes promises that are kept, the duped customers want more than an apology; they need their money back. When a pharmaceutical company conceals dangerous side effects of its latest wonder drug, the injured patients are not miraculously healed when the truth comes out. In the real world, the victims of lies, deception and fraud rely on our legal system to force the perpetrators to show contrition.
As a result, our courts see thousands upon thousands of claims for fraud, deceptive trade practices, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of contract. People bemoan the fact that there are so many lawsuits and so many legal disputes, but when our heros and sports idols are so often frauds and charlatans, how can we expect anything else? As you read the news in the next few days about the latest developments in the Armstrong or Te’o sagas, keep in mind that these stories are not the “real world.” When you are doing your job — whatever it is — remember that honesty really is the best policy, and deal with everyone fairly.
If you have been a victim of fraud, lies, or misrepresentations, contact the commercial dispute attorneys at Powers Taylor LLP.