Washington Attorney General Files Suit Against Altius Management Regarding Unfulfilled Kickstarter

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

In a first of its kind effort, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed suit on May 1st against Altius Management and company owner Edward J. Polchlepek III, (aka Ed Nash) for failing to fulfill their obligations to their "Asylum Playing Cards" Kickstarter project backers.

In October 2012 Altius Management successfully funded a Kickstarter campaign to produce a limited run of playing cards and other themed items featuring the art of a Serbian artist known as Milan C.  Altius secured $25,146 from 810 backers, over-funding its stated goal of $15,000. Though the project was supposed to be completed by December of 2012 "before Christmas and other holidays", not a single backer received the items promised.

WA Attorney General Bob Ferguson
According to the press release by the Washington State Attorney General's Office, of the 810 backers at least 31 were Washington state residents. It is on those backers' behalf that Ferguson has filed suit, seeking "Restitution for consumers; As much as $2,000 per violation of the Consumer Protection Act in civil penalties; and The state’s costs and attorneys’ fees for bringing the suit."

Previously in the world of Kickstarter those who contribute to projects and are subsequently stiffed are left with little avenue for recourse. While unfulfilled projects are against Kickstarter's Terms of Use, the company itself does not vet creators or pursue violations. According to Ferguson, “Consumers need to be aware that crowdfunding is not without risk. ...This lawsuit sends a clear message to people seeking the public’s money:  Washington state will not tolerate crowdfunding theft. The Attorney General’s Office will hold those accountable who don’t play by the rules.”

While some have voiced concern about how this suit will change the crowdfunding landscape, I think it is excellent news. Some may think twice before pitching a project they are ill prepared to deliver. I believe that more accountability will ultimately lead to better results for both creators and backers.