Posted 1/16/2012 12:00 am
Updated 11 months ago
A battle over a winning $1 million lottery ticket that had been thrown away is set for next week in White County Circuit Court.
Judge Thomas Hughes is expected to hear evidence Jan. 25 on a motion to dismiss the lawsuit that was filed in August by Lisa Petriches, manager of the Super 1 Stop in Beebe.
Petriches said the winning ticket should belong to her and not to Sharon Jones of Beebe. Petriches said in her lawsuit that on July 15, while Jones was in the store cashing another lottery ticket, she “reached into a receptacle for discarded lottery tickets marked ‘Do Not Take!’ and took a handful of discarded lottery tickets.”
One of those tickets was a winning $1 million ticket.
Jones cashed the ticket on July 18 and received $680,000 after state and federal taxes were withheld.
The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery did a routine investigation of the win, and that’s when Petriches discovered how Jones obtained it, according to Jones’ attorney, Winston Collier of Searcy.
In his filing, however, Collier had a slightly different take on how Jones obtained the ticket. Jones grabbed “multiple” discarded tickets from a “wastebasket,” which she had “done on numerous occasion in the presence” of Petriches, according to Jones’ court filings.
He said that neither Petriches nor the owner of the store had an ownership interest in items discarded in wastebaskets on the property.
Petriches, in a lawsuit filed Aug. 22, claimed Jones took the ticket without permission and then committed fraud by making false representations to the ASL that she was the rightful owner of the ticket. Petriches said she routinely entered discarded tickets in the lottery’s “second chance” drawings.
Petriches asked that a temporary restraining order be put in place to prevent Jones from spending the winnings. Judge Hughes granted that request on Aug. 29, and the money has been sitting in attorney Collier’s account since then.
Collier has asked that the restraining order be dissolved and the case dismissed.
He said in his filings that lottery tickets “are bearer instruments, and accordingly, the party in actual physical possession of said instrument is the legal owner of said property.”
Julie Baldridge, interim director of the ASL, agreed about the ownership of the ticket. She said whoever has the ticket “is who owns it.” That’s why if the ticket in Beebe had been signed on the back by the unknown original owner, the case “would have a different outcome. But the person who originally purchased that ticket threw it away.”
Collier said that Jones would use the winnings to send her daughter to college and buy a home.
Petriches’ attorney, James “Red” Morgan of Searcy, declined to comment.