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Florida Supreme Court orders new trial in $1M lottery dispute

May 29, 2015, 11:18 am

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Howard Browning is a guy who does not give up.

In 2008, he sued his live-in sweetheart, a Seminole County schoolteacher, after she refused to give him half of the $1 million lottery jackpot she won.

They had a deal, he insisted, although it was unwritten: If he won the lottery, he'd give her half — and if she won, she'd give him half.

A judge in Sanford threw out his case in 2012 after a jury had begun to hear evidence, and an appeals court later agreed. But on Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court reversed those decisions and ruled that Browning should get a new trial.

"We pick another jury and we go again," said Sean Patrick Sheppard, the Fort Lauderdale attorney who represents Browning, 61.

The girlfriend who won the lottery, 61-year-old Lynn Anne Poirier of Geneva, was not available for comment. Her lawyer, Mark Alexander Sessums, did not return a phone call.

$1 million winner

According to Browning's lawsuit and lawyer, Poirier won the lottery July 4, 2007.

The couple were living together at the time in a century-old farmhouse owned by Poirier, then a special-education teacher at South Seminole Middle School. Browning was an out-of-work mechanic.

The couple were sweethearts and had lived together for 16 years, according to Browning.

They had gone out to dinner at a Red Lobster in Seminole County and then stopped at a convenience store, where they bought several $20 lottery raffle tickets.

Browning paid for them, Sheppard said. His client has an ATM receipt from that night showing that he withdrew several hundred dollars in cash just before buying several of the tickets.

But Poirier told jurors that's not what happened: The couple had previously broken up. By chance they wound up at the same convenience store that evening, and she paid for the winning ticket herself, she testified.

Browning first realized something was amiss when she disappeared for a month and a half immediately after the lottery drawing and wouldn't answer his phone calls, according to the suit.

He poked around and noticed one of their lottery tickets was missing and that the numbers on the losing tickets that he did find were very close to one that won.

Time to leave

Poirier had cashed the ticket and eventually returned home. She showed up at the house with a new car "and proceeds to tell him to get out," Sheppard said.

"That's how love goes."

But Browning refused to move out. A few months later, Poirier sued him for eviction, and a judge ordered him out.

Browning's reaction to Thursday's Florida Supreme Court ruling: "He's thrilled," Sheppard said.

He's concerned that Poirier, who worked her last day Thursday as a teacher's aide at Lawton Chiles Middle School near Oviedo, has already spent the winnings.

"Getting a judgment and collecting are two entirely different things," Sheppard said, "but we're certainly not going to stop at this point.

"Hopefully we'll go to trial before the end of the year."

Orlando Sentinel

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10 comments. Last comment 5 years ago by Teddi.
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CARBOB's avatar - ga lottery.png.gif
COLUMBUS,GA.
United States
Member #4924
June 3, 2004
6697 Posts
Offline

The final results will be interesting, in this he said/ she said, unless he has witnesses. The Florida Supreme Court must have some doubts.

    ThatScaryChick's avatar - giphy11resized
    Idaho
    United States
    Member #56504
    November 21, 2007
    6696 Posts
    Offline

    It sounds like their relationship wasn't very good to begin with if one of the first things she did was break up with him right after she won. I don't know. I think if you buy tickets together then you should probably share, but who knows what's going on here since like Carbob said it's a lot of he said she said talk.

    "twitter - youtube - steam - tumblr"

    ThatScaryChick

      Avatar
      New Member

      United States
      Member #166563
      May 27, 2015
      29 Posts
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      It sounds like their relationship wasn't very good to begin with if one of the first things she did was break up with him right after she won. I don't know. I think if you buy tickets together then you should probably share, but who knows what's going on here since like Carbob said it's a lot of he said she said talk.

      Agreed.   It is sad that money has a way of coming between friendships.

        music*'s avatar - DiscoBallGlowing
        USN United States Navy
        Fresno, California
        United States
        Member #157851
        August 2, 2014
        3959 Posts
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         I hope that Justice is served here.  US Flag

         "We are all in this together!" 

          Avatar
          Kentucky
          United States
          Member #32651
          February 14, 2006
          8998 Posts
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          The final results will be interesting, in this he said/ she said, unless he has witnesses. The Florida Supreme Court must have some doubts.

          The story doesn't say why the Supreme Court sent it back, but it doesn't appear to be because the jury verdict.

            maximumfun's avatar - Lottery-030.jpg

            United States
            Member #124612
            March 16, 2012
            3713 Posts
            Offline

            He'll get a judgment for 1/2.  She will have already spent it all.  The lawyers' fees will be over 200k and everyone loses except for the lawyers.

              Avatar

              United States
              Member #141030
              April 2, 2013
              1481 Posts
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              The lawyers are smiling. Win or lose, the lawyers will come up winners.

              Seek and ye shall find -Matt. 7:7 ...Ask and ye shall receive -John 16:24 ...Give and it shall be given unto you -Luke 6:38 ...Be careful what you ask for!!! -Mypiemaster 1:1

              Having Money Solves Problems That Not Having Money Creates Yes Nod ****John Carlton****

                KY Floyd's avatar - lysol avatar.jpg
                NY
                United States
                Member #23834
                October 16, 2005
                4264 Posts
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                His lawyer is almost certainly working on contingency, so won't cost a dime if he doesn't collect. Hers will be billing her for every minute he can. If she was a teacher she probably has a pension, so even if she hasn't got any other assets he may be able to get a share of that.

                Of course we may never know the truth, but it does seem unlikely that they just happened to show up at the store at the same time, and it's suspicious that they supposedly broke up but she waited until a couple of months until after winning to file for eviction. As for why the court ordered a new trial, I'd guess it's because the original judge dismissed the case after the trial had already started. There's a triable issue of fact and the jury should have been allowed to make the decision.

                  Drenick1's avatar - villiarna
                  USA
                  United States
                  Member #152794
                  February 25, 2014
                  1103 Posts
                  Offline

                  Very sad to have been with someone all that time and then letting a financial windfall ruin everything including your character.

                    Teddi's avatar - Lottery-008.jpg

                    United States
                    Member #142495
                    May 13, 2013
                    1391 Posts
                    Offline

                    Interesting, the article I read stated that even though they bought the tickets at the same place, she bought a set of tickets and he bought a set. Two different transactions, they weren't paid for together. I believe that story because if all the tickets were purchased together, the judges would have had no reason to dismiss his case twice. Based on the other report, he was claiming a share because he said his money paid for the tickets she paid for and that they were still living together. Which smells fishy to me.

                    If I'm withdrawing money from an ATM to buy tickets for myself and significant other, who I live with, why would I give her money to buy her own set of tickets while I then go and buy my own right after her? If we have an agreement to split the winnings, why are we buying tickets separately at the same place and time. Unless they had indeed broken up and she decided to pay for her own tickets.

                    Something's wrong with this guy. It's her house, they're no longer a couple and he refuses to move out...of her house? A judge has to tell him to leave? They buy tickets separately, not together as they used to do, and he says he is to get half? Two court rulings say he's not entitled to it, but he keeps suing anyway. He needs to let go and move on.