Fifth claimant pulled out of lawsuit early; won't get share
BARRIE, Ont. — Santa Claus is finally coming to town for four local families who've waited almost three years to see him.
Slawomir Kowalewski, a former employee of Powco Steel Co. who believed that he'd been duped out of his share of a $24,520,300 Lotto 6/49 jackpot on Jan. 16, 2008, is one of four recipients of this week's settlement of approximately $4 million from the Ontario Lottery Gaming Corp. (OLGC).
"I'm so happy for my family and my children," said Kowalewski last night. "But I'll tell you, money isn't everything. Health, happiness and family are what's important to me now."
Kowalewski's legal council, Marek Tufman of the Toronto firm Tufman and Associates, said the long legal wranglings were hard on his client.
"The mental anguish was awful," said Tufman from Toronto Sunday. "Many people have been traumatized — and there's been a huge degree of stress. Hopefully they can all put this behind them now."
Tufman expects the original $3,862,934 set aside by the OLGC on the direction of Justice Alfred J. Stong of the Superior Court of Justice for the five claimants has accrued a bit of interest during the past almost three years.
This increased amount will be shared by four of the original five claimants, including: Kowalewski, Stan Zondervan, Nikolaos Lymbertos and Michael Muir.
One claimant pulled out of the lawsuit early, perhaps feeling that he didn't have a strong enough claim, suggested Tufman.
Kowalewski, 44, a father of two, had believed his name would be included in the Powco employee's weekly lottery ticket purchase during his trip to Poland in 2008.
He'd arranged with the ticket purchaser to buy the tickets on his behalf while he was gone. However, upon his return to Canada, he found that his name and the green book containing proof that he'd always played — and paid — was missing.
Kowalewski's original statement of claim stated that his former co-worker had "discarded the green book" in order to make certain the true identities of those participating in the draw could not be known and ensure that Kowalewski's identity as being a continuous member of the pool could not be confirmed. An OPP probe into the original list given to the OLGC found two names covered over in whiteout.
In 2008, the investigation by the OLGC's new overseer, the Alcohol Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), determined the case warranted being referred to the OPP, said OLGC media spokesperson, Tony Bitonti.
"This was an unusual case because it was one of the first that was investigated by AGCO," said Bitonti. "We're pleased there's now been a resolution to this case and it follows with our mandate; that the right prize is paid to the right people."
Now that their claim has finally been reached, Kowalewski and his wife Maria can expect their share before Christmas, said Tufman.
"We're going to decorate every room for Christmas," said Maria Kowalewski. "It's going to be a good Christmas."