More than a year after the Washington State Office of the Attorney General filed a consumer protection lawsuit against a Kickstarted game creator who failed to deliver, a state court ruled against the defendant and ordered that $54,851 be paid in civil fines, fees and restitution to backers of the bungled crowdfunding campaign.
This is especially notable in light of the fact that Washington attorney general Bob Ferguson believes this to be the nation's first-ever consumer protection lawsuit involving crowdfunding, and it happens to be over a tabletop game Kickstarter: Asylum Playing Cards.
As Polygon notes, this likely sets a legal precedent for taking action against people who run successful Kickstarters and don't deliver the goods, though some of the backers of this project reportedly began receiving decks of cards in June, shortly before the court issued its ruling in July.
The whole thing started when the Aslyum Kickstarter ended in October of 2012 at $25,146 in pledges, beating its original $15,000 goal. In 2014 Washington state's Attorney General's office alleged that campaign creator Edward J. Polchlepek III (aka Ed Nash) and his company, Altius Management had collected the money and neglected to deliver either the cards or the various backer rewards.
Since some of the campaign backers live in Washington, the state's legal team was able to get involved.
“Washington state will not tolerate crowdfunding theft,” stated Ferguson in a press release announcing the ruling back in July. “If you accept money from consumers, and don’t follow through on your obligations, my office will hold you accountable.” The release then goes on to encourage people in similar situations to file complaints with their state's attorney general.
Nash and Altius Management have been ordered to pay their 31 backers in Washington a total of $668 in restitution, as well as $23,183 in legal fees and $31,000 (a grand per backer burned) in civil penalties for violating the state Consumer Protection Act, but it's yet unclear whether they've actually done so. Gamasutra has reached out to the Washington state Attorney General's office for further details.