Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware
In August, I wrote a post about Indiana-based vanity press New Century Publishing, whose owner, David Caswell, was being investigated by the Indiana Attorney General for taking authors' money and failing to publish their books.
I'm a bit late with this follow-up, but a lawsuit against Caswell and New Century was filed by the AG's Office in Marion County Circuit Court on August 17. Caswell is accused of multiple violations of the Deceptive Consumer Sales Act, as well as interchanging corporate and fictitious names in order to mislead and confuse customers, commingling corporate and personal funds, and the use of customer funds for other than their designated purposes. Sixteen writers are named in the complaint, and thousands of dollars in fees for publishing, finished books (most never delivered), and other services (such as a table at a book signing event) are detailed.
The AG is requesting both injunctive relief (all of it consumer-focused, since Caswell is being charged under the Deceptive Consumer Sales Act, and none of it specifically to do with publishing), and financial relief, including customer restitution "in an amount to be determined at trial" and penalties of $5,500 per violation.
The full text of the complaint can be seen here.
Caswell has been sued twice before by the Indiana Attorney General, once in 1990 and once in 2005, both times for consumer fraud. Of a total of nearly $100,000 in fines, he has allegedly paid just $600.
Will the AG manage to make him pay up this time, if the requested penalties are assessed? Stay tuned.
Edited to add: As reported in this news article, 24 additional complaints were added on Thursday to the original complaint, bringing the number of authors up to 40.