Only six Ohio postal workers sued Stephen Kyle for a piece of a $175,000 winning lottery ticket.
But all 20 lottery-pool members -- including Kyle -- will share the jackpot evenly after a jury ruled Tuesday that Kyle was wrong to keep the money for himself, cutting his colleagues out of their fair shares.
If all 20 stake a claim, each will be eligible to receive $8,750, before taxes. Three of the pool members who testified on Kyle's behalf during the two-day trial in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court said they weren't interested in the money. But they may change their minds now that a jury has ordered Kyle to slice up the cash pie.
Kyle, 51, of Amherst, insisted all along that he bought the winning ticket last June with his own money, not the pool's. Even after lottery sales records and a store clerk contradicted Kyle's claims, he stuck with his story.
The eight jurors who heard the evidence said they did not believe Kyle.
The jurors, who gathered afterward in Judge Daniel Gaul's chambers, said Kyle acted suspiciously after picking five of six winning numbers in the Mega Million jackpot drawing: Kyle destroyed the pool tickets and failed to make copies, breaking from his standard practice; he waited five days before telling his colleagues he had won; and he changed his story to say he bought the pool tickets over two days instead of one.
"It led the jury to question whether he really had purchased $100 worth of tickets for the pool as he claimed he had done," said Gaul, as jurors nodded in agreement. Lottery sales records show Kyle bought only $50 worth of tickets for the pool members on the day he initially claimed to have bought $100 worth.
Kyle's attorney, R.J. Budway, said he has 30 days to decide whether to appeal.
He said he will work with the plaintiffs' lawyers to notify the pool members that they may stake a claim to a share of the $175,000.
Pool lawyer Robert Smith III said he tried to work out a pretrial settlement with Budway, but concerns over other potential lawsuits persuaded them to work out the dispute in court.
"This was one of those things that had be tried in a courtroom," Smith said. "Obviously, we're pleased with the way the jury considered the evidence and how this all turned out."
Editor: I wonder how much the lawyers won.