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."