Asylum Playing CardsThe Washington State Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against the owner of the Asylum Playing Cards project on Kickstarter. The suit accuses Altius Managament and Edward J. Polchlepek III (also known as Ed Nash) of violating state consumer protection laws by failing to deliver on promised rewards, including decks of cards, poker chips, and other items.

Kickstarter’s terms of service do not obligate owners to complete their projects, however they do require fulfillment of rewards for pledges. In principle then, failing to complete a project is not a violation and would not obligate a project owner to refund backers’ money. The problem is that the most common reward for game projects is a copy of the game. In fact, I daresay this is what entices most backers to contribute.

An additional complication is that the delivery dates of rewards are only “estimated”, thus making it difficult to determine at what point a project owner has definitively failed in his obligation.

In the current case, Attorney General Ferguson argues that the project owner has not communicated with backers or updated the project status since June 2013, and further has ignored refund requests. In support of court intervention, the lawsuit states:

Defendants’ practice… has the capacity to deceive a substantial number of consumers and is an unfair or deceptive act or practice in trade or commerce and unfair method of competition in violation of [state law].

According to backer comments on the project’s Kickstarter page, the artist for the project has received no money from the owner and the supposed manufacturer of the cards claims to have never even heard of the Altius Management.

The lawsuit asks for restitution to backers, a penalty of $62,000, and attorney’s fees for the state.