WestlawNext: Cure for the lottery loser’s blues.

December 12, 2012

Last week, the Powerball jackpot was won by individuals in Missouri and Arizona. It was the second largest jackpot in history. When these big jackpots occur, it seems like we start reading a lot about the downsides of winning the lottery (sore losers?). We see a lot of pitiful stories about former lottery winners wasting their money, ending up destitute, friendless, and despised by their families. And of course, we see the stories about the fights.

In September, a group of McDonald’s co-workers sued their former co-worker (Mirlande Wilson) who, earlier in the year, claimed to hold a winning Mega Millions ticket. After some bizarre behavior, she later claimed to have lost the ticket, and shortly thereafter, three teachers came forward with the winning ticket. The McDonald’s employees sued Wilson, alleging the following:

The group’s lawsuit says Wilson did buy a winning ticket as part of a lottery pool the co-workers were in and that she and her lawyer, Edward Smith Jr., orchestrated an elaborate ruse to recruit the educators and trick the Maryland Lottery into believing they had won rather than Wilson.

Baltimore Sun article on Westlaw at 2012 WLNR 21006112

And, also in the news,  is the recent commencement of a trial of a woman charged with killing a former lottery winner (Abraham Shakespeare) in Florida. It is alleged that the woman (Dorice “Dee Dee” Moore”) “befriended Shakespeare, swindled him out of his money and then killed him. His body was found under a concrete slab behind a home detectives say was owned by Moore’s ex-boyfriend…” 11/27/12 AP Alert – FL 08:02:02

So what kind of results do we get in WestlawNext for this issue? I ran a plain language search in all state and federal materials:

LOTTERY POWERBALL WINNING WINNER WIN

In our Overview screen, I see the following results:

Cases:

Welford v. Nobrega, 586 N.E.2d 970 (Mass. 1992) – Former wife of lottery winner brought action to modify judgment of divorce. Former wife argued that her ex-husband was the sole owner of the ticket, despite a claim by an acquaintance that half of the proceeds belonged to her, as she helped purchase the winning ticket. Court held that purchaser of the ticket and acquaintance were joint owners of the proceeds.

Dickerson v. Deno, 770 So. 2d 63 (Ala. 2000) – An oral agreement to share proceeds from an individually owned lottery ticket constituted a contract founded on gambling consideration, and thus, was void.

Statutes:

Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 19-A, § 2360 – Maine statute requiring state agency responsible for paying lottery winnings to determine whether lottery winner owes a child support debt, and if so, the agency must suspend payments and notify the winner of its intention to offset the child support debt against the winnings.

Regulations:

61 Pa. Code § 871.13 – Procedures for claiming and payment of Powerball prizes.

Administrative Decisions & Guidance:

CONNECTICUT INCOME TAX TREATMENT OF STATE LOTTERY WINNINGS RECEIVED BY RESIDENTS AND NONRESIDENTS OF CONNECTICUT, IP 2011(28), 2012 WL 121164 (Jan. 4, 2012) – State of Connecticut Dept of Revenue Services Informational Publication

Trial Court Orders:

MIDLAND STATES LIFE INSURANCE CO, v. MASSACHUSETTS STATE LOTTERY COMMISSION., 2001 WL 35904794 – Lottery winner attempted to use annual lottery prize payments as security interest for loan. When he defaulted, the creditor attempted to auction off the security interest, and plaintiff won. Unfortunately, when plaintiff attempted to request that the payments be sent to them, the Lottery Commission refused, as state statute prohibited assignment of lottery winnings. The court dismissed plaintiffs claim, agreeing that the winnings could not be transferred, and that the original security interest contracts were void.

Secondary Sources:

18 No. 5 Andrews Ent. Indus. Litig. Rep. 2 – COURT ORDERS MISSOURI TO PAY OLD POWERBALL TICKET – Article discussing a case where the court decided that the 180-day deadline for redeeming winning lottery tickets was illegal.

Trial Court Documents:

Joyce A. CAESAR, Pro Se, Plaintiff, v. Megamillion Biggame LOTTERY, 2005 WL 3522139 (D.N.J.) – Plaintiff’s elaborate complaint against Lottery officials, government officials, and their friends and family alleging a convoluted scheme to steal her claimed lottery winnings. If you click on the link to the affiliated docket, you’ll see it was dismissed as frivolous. But the complaint is an entertaining read regardless.

As we’ve seen, Westlaw provides plenty of balm for the sore lottery loser. Maybe its best we didn’t win big, as we’d end up giving a significant portion of our winnings to our legal counsel anyway.