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$500K lottery prize divides two elderly sisters

Insider BuzzInsider Buzz: $500K lottery prize divides two elderly sisters

HARTFORD, Conn. — A passion for gambling shared by two once-inseparable octogenarian sisters has ended up dividing them, with the Connecticut Supreme Court ruling that one can sue the other for a share of a winning $500,000 lottery ticket.

The court said 83-year-old Theresa Sokaitis, of Middletown, can try to enforce a written contract she signed with her 87-year-old sister, Rose Bakaysa, of Plainville, agreeing to split any gambling winnings.

Sokaitis says she is due a share of a $500,000 Powerball jackpot won by Bakaysa and their brother, Joseph F. Troy Sr., in 2005.

"We had an accountant, we had a contract and we had a notary public," Sokaitis said. "We signed the contract together and we agreed to split anything. And when it came time, they didn't even tell me; I saw it in the paper."

A lower court dismissed the suit under a Connecticut law that makes gambling contracts illegal. But the high court, in a ruling that took effect Tuesday, said the sisters' agreement isn't covered by that law because it involves legal activities. It said the case could go to trial.

A message seeking comment was left Tuesday with Troy; a number couldn't be found for Bakaysa.

Gambling was a shared passion

Sokaitis said she and her sister used to gamble together frequently, play the same lottery numbers, and play the slots and cards at the Foxwoods Resort Casino, she said.

"Almost every day, I'd pick her up, and we'd go riding around," she said. "We went to the casino a lot, and we always shared everything."

Sokaitis said they decided to put the agreement in writing in 1995 after she won more than $160,000 playing poker at Foxwoods and split it with Bakaysa.

"They actually sat down with typewriter and typed up this four-line agreement which says that 'we will share in any future winnings from lottery, cards, bingo' and actually had this agreement notarized," said Sokaitis' attorney, Sam Pollack.

Falling out puts contract up for debate
At some point, the two had a falling out. Sokaitis said she doesn't remember whether that happened before the lottery ticket was bought.

But Bakaysa's attorney, William J. Sweeney Jr., said a falling-out between the two in 2004 ended the contract, and the two haven't spoken since then.

"Our position has been that if the statute as written should be repealed, then it should be repealed, but it is on the books and it should be enforced," Sweeney said. "The court has said otherwise, so be it."

Sweeney said he still believes the contract is not enforceable and will make that case at trial. Pollack argues that the contract is both legal and binding.

"Just like all siblings, there were disputes," he said. "I don't think there was ever anything that amounts to a legal rescission of this contract."

Sokaitis said she doesn't want to drag her sister into court but believes she and her family are due a share of the money.

"I miss her so much, and I love her, and I don't like what's taken place," Sokaitis said. "But all I want is what is rightfully mine. All I want is my share, nothing more."

Thanks to JAP69 for the tip.

AP

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13 comments. Last comment 7 years ago by InItAndWonIt.
Page 1 of 1
HaveABall's avatar - rocket

United States
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March 18, 2009
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Posted: August 11, 2009, 11:32 pm - IP Logged

Well, Theresa Sokaitis, I hope you were smart enough to enter a SPECIFIC % amount of "split" into that contract 14 years ago!  I wonder if your brother, Joseph, knew about the contract (because if he didn't, then he might end up in financial trouble if he's already spent the money, once a portion that your sister already gave him is required to be sent to you). 

This will probably end up to be a very difficult process for all three of you siblings.  Yet, Theresa, if it were me, I admit that I would be furious at having been put under/discarded and then understandably requesting the money split % as soon as I found out (hoping that nobody spent the money yet, which would end up putting them into a 'collection' situation with you).

Sad Wavey

Having several millions of dollars in my financial accounts means receiving several valuable services each day!

Disney

    ThatScaryChick's avatar - x1MqPuM
    Idaho
    United States
    Member #56506
    November 21, 2007
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    Posted: August 12, 2009, 12:13 am - IP Logged

    I guess if you make a contract with someone stating that you will share all lottery winnings and then later, you end up having a falling out, you better make sure you update your contract.

    After reading some of these news stories, I'm glad I play alone.

    "No one remembers the person who almost climbed the mountain, only the person who eventually gets to the top."

      BobP's avatar - bobp avatar.png
      Dump Water Florida
      United States
      Member #380
      June 5, 2002
      3104 Posts
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      Posted: August 12, 2009, 3:59 am - IP Logged

      Hey Bakaysa, you had no trouble taking the eighty grand from your sister when you agreed to the contract, now you should have no problem paying her half of the five hundred grand as you agreed to. 

      If the judge rules the contract invalid, you should give back the eighty grand.

      BobP

      At Scam Boys we sell a false sense of security to those who can't afford the real thing.

        dpoly1's avatar - driver
        PA
        United States
        Member #66141
        October 16, 2008
        1672 Posts
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        Posted: August 12, 2009, 12:21 pm - IP Logged

        We have some In-Laws that have not associated themselves with us for several years.

        I am sure that they would probably seek a piece of tonights Powerball Jackpot if we were so lucky as to win.

        I do not promise anyone anything and I advise my wife not to make any promises to anyone.

        That does not mean that I will not share - it only means that I do not make specific promises to anyone.

        Everyone should have the option of remaining anonymous!

          konane's avatar - wallace
          Atlanta, GA
          United States
          Member #1265
          March 13, 2003
          3333 Posts
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          Posted: August 12, 2009, 1:52 pm - IP Logged

          Isn't a contract supposed to have a beginning and ending date to define specific duration of the agreement?  Will be interesting how it's ruled on because of the unspecified ending date.  Maybe KyFloyd will weigh in on this .... he seems to have a good grasp of legal issues.

          Good luck to everyone!

            maringoman's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcTbRxpKQmOfcCoUqF2FyqIOAwDo7rg9G-lfJLAALPGWJWwiz19eRw
            Massachusetts
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            Member #37433
            April 14, 2006
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            Posted: August 12, 2009, 4:17 pm - IP Logged

            Thats your sister for crying out loud! not that I advocate shafting people who are not family.

            A contract is a contract is a contract.

              Avatar
              Monkey Butt, USA
              United States
              Member #54569
              August 23, 2007
              1124 Posts
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              Posted: August 12, 2009, 5:11 pm - IP Logged

              I don't get this. Sokaitis can't remember what the falling out was about but she can remember the contract? Hmmmmmm. Sokaitis states she doesn't want to drag her sister into court but believes she and her family are due a share of the money? I thought the contract was between the two sisters? If so, where does her family factor in? Sokaitis states she misses and loves her sister but "all I want is what is rightfully mine. All I want is my share, nothing more." How about a mended relationship between each other. It's not like they have all the time in the world to hold a pissing contest with each other and with the way things have a way of dragging out in the courts they both could be stone cold dead by the time the higher ups reach a ruling. Not to mention all of the unnecessary money spent on legal fees.

              Is Rose right for not breaking off a piece to her sister???????

              YUP she sure is. All she had to do is cut a check and mail it to Theresa. How much I'm not sure but Theresa was entitled to a piece of the pie. After all, when Theresa won the $160 thousand she split with Rose even though she didn't have to. After all that was why they did the agreement in the first place.

              I wonder if Theresa knew that Rose was not a person of her word and that is why the agreement was done in the first place? If so, why take that chance with someone who you know will leave you hanging if the price is right?

              Oh well we live and we learn every day.

              I am sooooooo glad that I don't like my relatives and I gamble alone. That way I feel no guilt when I ignore their sob stories. I've already made plans when I win and my relatives sob stories aren't part of it. What a person does with their jackpot winnings is their business not anyone else's.

                DC81's avatar - batman39
                MI
                United States
                Member #54830
                August 31, 2007
                985 Posts
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                Posted: August 12, 2009, 7:00 pm - IP Logged

                I remember about this on here several months to a year or two ago, I can't believe this is still going on. These old ladies should just settle it before they both croak. The only ones getting anything here are lawyers.

                You can't predict random.

                  larry3100's avatar - larry icon2.jpg
                  Redwood City,California
                  United States
                  Member #70503
                  February 3, 2009
                  200 Posts
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                  Posted: August 13, 2009, 2:23 pm - IP Logged

                  Ok.These sisters should have had an ending date on their contract.They didn't do that.They could have bought two tickets with the same numbers on it.They didn't do that.They could have had an attorney make the contract for them.They didn't do that.Ok,I have one question for the sisters.Which one of you have the Alzheimers ?. Argue

                    JackpotWanna's avatar - squiz

                    United States
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                    March 23, 2004
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                    Posted: August 14, 2009, 8:25 pm - IP Logged

                    I can't believe this story.  Age = wisdom?

                      Avatar
                      NY
                      United States
                      Member #23835
                      October 16, 2005
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                      Posted: August 17, 2009, 7:40 pm - IP Logged

                      Isn't a contract supposed to have a beginning and ending date to define specific duration of the agreement?  Will be interesting how it's ruled on because of the unspecified ending date.  Maybe KyFloyd will weigh in on this .... he seems to have a good grasp of legal issues.

                      Whether or not a contract needs starting or ending dates depends on the contract. It's easy enough to renew a contract that it's rather pointless to leave it open ended, regardless of what the contract is for. In some cases the dates may be implied, and there may be no reason to spell out a starting date. The sisters' contract would be a good example of the latter, where not having a starting date would imply that it takes effect immediately, and that was presumably their intention at that time.

                      Regardless of how readily the falling out, and its timeframe, can be proven, the sister who won has to prove that she has the right to unilaterally rescind the contract, which was a mutual agreement that either of them would split any winnings with the other. Each of them agreed to take on obligations in exchange for benefits, even though the obligations and benefits were unknown. The law is clear that you can't benefit from a contract more than the other party (or parties) and then rescind it without the consent of the other party or without just cause. If the written contract had been in place before the previous prize was shared I doubt the lawyer would even be trying to argue that there was a legitimate and legal recission. Since the written contract (apparently) came after sharing the prize, the lawyer for the sister seeking to share will  presumably argue that the written contract was a direct result, that the written agreement simply affirmed a pre-existing oral contract, and that the sister who won the PB prize has already benefitted.

                      Had there been no disproportionate benefit to any of the parties, it would almost certainly be permissible for any party to unilaterally bow out of potential future obligations as that would also preclude reaping any benefit. That makes the falling out relevant. If the fallling out was substantial and put an end to other aspects of the relationship, and especially to any joint gambling ventures, it's reasonable to assume that both sisters intended that the contract was also no longer in force. Of course a reasonable assumption is well short of proof. Without a clear rule of law that matches the specifics of a case, legal rulings are up to the opinions of those deciding the case, and I think the case could go either way.

                      My reading is that the argument is over the (presumably) half share that doesn't (clearly?) belong to the brother, so the case is over one half of that, or $125,000. One lawyer is probably working on a contingency basis, that would limit the sister's gain to about 80k. The other sister has probably already spent thousands, and will spend thousands more. If they had a lick of sense they'd settle for 50k.


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                        Posted: August 23, 2009, 9:00 pm - IP Logged

                        Saddest part is, the lawyers will end up with the bulk of the $500,000 after the trial is over.

                          Avatar
                          New Member
                          New Jersey
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                          August 24, 2009
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                          Posted: August 28, 2009, 7:38 pm - IP Logged

                          This is definitely a case of sadness. I am truly disgusted with the pettiness that is involved in this. Contracts are one thing, family is another.

                           

                          This is truly sick.