ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - Comedian Kevin Hart’s teary online confession to adultery destroyed a golden opportunity for a gaming developer Hart agreed to partner with before the clip went viral, a federal lawsuit filed in Virginia claims.
In a 19-page complaint filed Tuesday, mobile app developer Stand Up Digital claims Hart and Hart’s business partner, co-defendant Wayne Brown, entered into a contract to create a multi-player mobile game known as "Gold Ambush." The game would feature Hart’s likeness as well as his family’s.
Stand Up says it spent $1.24 million on the strategy game’s initial development without any upfront investment from Hart. That initial investment comprised approximately $678,000 in developer costs, $351,000 in promotion and public relations expenses, $33,000 in travel and entertainment, $41,000 in animation development, $74,000 in consulting expenses and $20,000 in office expenses, the complaint says.
“He promised Stand Up’s representatives, that ‘when you get Kevin, you get all of Kevin’ and expressed his eagerness to move forward with the parties’ relationship,” the filing states.
Hart and Stand Up agreed the game would launch in September 2017 but in August of that year, Hart posted a minute-long recording of himself on Instagram admitting he made “an error of judgment” when having an extramarital affair. On the clip, he swore he was not “going to allow another person to have financial gain off his mistakes,” the complaint says
Hart published the clip because he was allegedly being extorted by the woman he cheated with but the confessional was posted just days before Golden Ambush’s launch. The media seized on the story and turned Stand Up Digital’s deal with Hart on its head.
“Not only did the announcement come with no notification to Stand Up, Mr. Hart knew of the extortion attempt in August, several weeks prior to his Instagram announcement. In clear violation of his duties as a director of Stand Up, Hart made no effort to warn the company of his pending announcement, coordinate a postponement of the September 18 launch, or in any way attempt to mitigate the damages caused by the fallout of the scandal,” the plaintiff claims.
The complaint claims these alleged omissions “completely destroyed” the plaintiff’s pre-launch commitments shuttered the “credibility of the game as family-oriented entertainment caused Apple’s AppStore to withdraw its commitment to feature the game – the key element in a successful launch of a game – and nullified future profitability of the game.”
Had Hart only informed Stand Up of the coming extortion announcement ahead of time, the plaintiff claims, it would have worked “to spread out the cost of development … and have more runway for a postponed launch.”
But Hart allegedly ignored Stand Up Digital’s multiple attempts to communicate by phone, text and email after the scandal.
Stand Up now seeks $1.24 million in compensatory damages and $6 million in punitive damages for lost future earnings.
Stand Up is represented by attorney Stephen Stine of the Stine Law Firm in Fairfax Virginia.
Hart did not immediately respond to request for comment Thursday.
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