Now that $21 million in Texas Lottery prize money is in limbo as a result of a pending lawsuit that has frozen the money, many people wonder how they can protect themselves from falling victim of a lottery pool dispute.
The six Lubbock winners are being sued by a seventh person who claims, but has no written proof, that she was supposed to be included in the winnings.
Who could have thought a little piece of paper could cause so much trouble? More than money, a winning ticket could bring you complication, stress and legal trouble you never thought possible. Much like in any case, prevention is the best solution. So how can you kill controversy before it starts?
Your office pool has won the lottery. You and everyone in your pool is rich. But what if someone claims a stake in the winnings despite a loose affiliation with the pool? How do you protect yourself and your winnings? There is one fundamental rule.
"The secret is to get in with a group of people that you trust," advised Tommy Turner, a seasoned attorney with experience in civil disputes.
Turner says protecting your pool is easier than it sounds.
"It's not rocket science," he says. "You just write down what you want to do, how many tickets you're going to buy, who's going to buy them and how the proceeds are going to be split."
Referencing the current lotto lawsuit and advising against loose association, Turner explains that word of mouth agreements are risky ventures.
"The burden of proof is on the plantiff, the lady that said she was left out of the lottery. She has a tough lawsuit ahead of her," thinks Turner.
KAMC-28 spoke with Joel Rodriguez, who has been inspired by the local jackpot to start his own pool. After hearing of the lawsuit, he says his pool will have a contract so that he's sure to cover all his bases.
"I would explain it that, 'Hey, this is to protect everybody. That way if we do win, everybody's entitled to it and if you don't sign here, you have no legal right'," he says.
Legal right is what has the current lotto winners in so much trouble. So the next ime your office wants to try to cash in, make sure you're prepared just in case the impossible happens.
Turner went on to say that having your contract drafted by a lawyer is a good idea, but not essential to making the agreement binding.