For the first time, a Kickstarter campaign has been ordered by a state court to pay restitution and civil penalties for failing to deliver rewards to its backers. The judgment, filed July 22 in Washington state, sets a precedent there that companies and individuals who accept money through crowdfunding are beholden to deliver on their promises.
"Washington state will not tolerate crowdfunding theft," said Washington's attorney general Bob Ferguson in a press release issued July 27. "If you accept money from consumers, and don’t follow through on your obligations, my office will hold you accountable."
Polygon previously reported that in April of 2014 Ferguson filed suit against Edward J. Polchlopek III, also known as Ed Nash, and his Nashville, Tenn.-based Altius Management, for failing to deliver products to the backers of the Asylum Playing Card campaign. The playing cards, designed by a Serbian artist, were to be an exclusive printing delivered by Dec. 2012.
The campaign, launched by Altius on Sept. 24, 2012, promised backers at the $9 level a single deck of playing cards. Backers at other levels were to receive signed original art and other perks. The campaign was successfully funded on Oct. 31, receiving $25,146 on a $15,000 ask.
The expected shipping date passed without backers receiving anything.
The judgement, filed in a county superior court, awards each of the 31 Washington state backers restitution in the amount of $668. Additionally, Polchlopek and Altius Management must pay $31,000 in civil penalties for violating the state Consumer Protection Act — $1,000 per backer. They are also required to pay $23,183 to cover the state's court costs.
The press release states that consumers in other states are encouraged to file a complaint with their attorney general.
As of June, some backers report that they have begun to receive their decks.