“Finders Keepers” Principle in Jeopardy After Judge Snatches Lottery Prize from Woman Who Found Ticket in Trashcan
Alternate post title: Frivolous Lawsuit of the Day 2:
When she plucked a winning lottery ticket out of the trash, Sharon Jones’ luck changed instantly. The $1 million prize let her pay off debts, give thousands of dollars to her children and buy a gleaming new pickup truck.
But now her jackpot is in jeopardy. A judge ruled this week that the money belongs to another woman, who says she threw the ticket away after a lottery machine incorrectly told her it was a loser. The Arkansas Lottery Commission insists there are no problems with its equipment.
A discarded lottery ticket is at the center of a million dollar dispute in Arkansas. A woman who found the ticket in the trash received the prize from the state lottery commission, but a judge says the ticket belongs to the woman who bought it.
The winner in the lawsuit says she threw away the ticket after an electronic scanner told her she had lost:
Sharon Jones claimed the $1 million prize last July, turning in a scratch-off “Diamond Dazzler” ticket that the other woman, Sharon Duncan, said she purchased earlier at the Super 1 Stop convenience store in Beebe, about 35 miles northeast of Little Rock.
Duncan told a judge she discarded the ticket after an electronic scanner told her it was “not a winner.”
“And then the next thing you know, 10 months later, you’re fighting for something that was trash,” William Jones said.
It’s not clear how Duncan proves she bought the ticket, especially in light of this:
White County Judge Thomas Hughes concluded that Duncan bought the winning ticket, even though lottery records and store security video didn’t synch up to the precise timing of the purchase. He ruled that Duncan never abandoned her right to claim the winnings.
“The $1 million was never found money,” the judge said Tuesday.
My favorite part of the story isn’t in the linked article, but I know I saw it the other day and just can’t find the link: the store owner also sued for ownership of the ticket.
Hey, why not?
If this doesn’t provoke a lively debate then I have no idea what could.