INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A 70-year-old retired chemist is suing a convenience store chain for more than $11.5 million, claiming its employees cheated him out of a large jackpot by refusing to sell him a lottery ticket.
Charles Andrews says in his lawsuit that he picked the winning numbers for the February 2008 Hoosier Lotto drawing, but that a clerk at a Speedway store in Indianapolis refused to sell him a ticket with a few minutes left before the 10:40 p.m. official sales cutoff.
Andrews, of Indianapolis, says the clerk told him the lottery terminal wasn't working but later printed out a list of winning numbers when he asked, proving the machine was operating. The clerk then told him the store manager didn't like to sell lottery tickets after 10 p.m. He said other store employees also wouldn't sell him a ticket.
"They had an obligation to issue him a ticket because he was there before 10:40," said Bob Burkett, one of Andrews' attorneys.
Andrews, who is disabled, says there wasn't enough time to get to another store, so he signed his play slip and left it with the store so he would have proof in case they turned out to be the winning numbers.
"I knew if I walked out the door with the pay slip and I won any money at all with those numbers I couldn't prove that was the pay slip I left with the employees," he said.
Andrews' attorneys argue in court briefs that the store was legally obligated to sell him a ticket up until the cutoff time. The suit, filed in Marion County court in fall 2009 and transferred to federal court at Speedway's request, accuses the company of breach of contract and negligence, among other things, and seeks the amount of the prize — $11.5 million — and unspecified punitive damages.
Speedway SuperAmerica LLC denies in court filings that it had any duty to sell Andrews a lottery ticket. It also denies Andrews' version of events. Andrews' attorneys say they are seeking copies of store security video to confirm his story.
Attorneys for Speedway didn't immediately return phone calls seeking comment Monday.
A spokeswoman for the Hoosier Lottery said retailers can set their own hours for selling and redeeming lottery tickets as long as they cut off sales by 10:40 p.m.
"It's up to the individual retail location," Lucia Anderson said.
Josh Brown, another of Andrews' lawyers, said the law isn't explicit.
"There is no statute addressing the retail hours and whether they can set it or not set it," he said.
Brown noted that the contract between the lottery agency and retailers requires stores to display game and date lists, and said those likely would include hours of play.
"It's only fair to the citizens who spend their hard-earned money on the lottery that they know when the lottery is open," he said.
Andrews says he plays the lottery regularly and often plays the numbers that include his birthday and the years of his favorite antique car makes.
"That's my only hope to make more money than what my Social Security pays me," he said.