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Lottery player wins case against deceptive store owner

Mar 25, 2004, 6:22 am

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Ohio LotteryOhio Lottery: Lottery player wins case against deceptive store owner

John Struna and his attorney Wednesday beat a legal demon that has vexed consumers for years: The fine print.

The result means Struna could be more than $1 million richer, and a convenience store owner who sells Ohio Lottery tickets could be forced out of business.

Four nights a week between 1997 and October 2001, Struna stopped at the Convenient Food Mart on East 200th Street in Cleveland, where he purchased between 40 and 55 Buckeye Five tickets from the store's owner, Harry Singh.

Singh welcomed the business.

It was hard not to. According to his own estimate, Struna spent about $125,000 a year on tickets at the store, spending as much as $6 a ticket. His routine paid off. He hit it big on Oct. 25, 2001, correctly picking all five numbers on each of the 52 tickets he purchased that day.

It was easy to figure the total payout: if one winning ticket paid $100,000, then 52 winning tickets must be worth $5.2 million total.

But the Ohio Lottery Commission told Struna the numbers didn't add up, pointing out that the rules clearly state that the game only pays a maximum of $1 million to be divided by each winning ticket.

Worse yet, another person had picked the same five numbers, which meant the total jackpot would have to be divided 53 ways, not 52, so Struna's tickets were worth $981,000.

Struna blamed Singh for encouraging him to purchase so many tickets, and for never telling him that the game was capped at $1 million. Had he known, Struna would argue later, he would have purchased fewer tickets each night.

He also accused the Ohio Lottery of false advertising and sued both the lottery and Singh to pay him $100,000 for each winning ticket.

Struna's case against the Lot tery was dismissed in Ohio's Court of Claims, said Struna's attorney, Andrew Kabat. It is being appealed.

But a Cuyahoga County jury ruled Wednesday against Singh in a civil case, awarding Struna more than $1.3 million.

Struna already received the $981,000 for his winning tickets.

Struna and Singh could not be reached for comment.

Singh's attorney, Gary Seewald, said Singh never misrepresented the rule and that Struna bore the sole responsibility for understanding the game.

Struna carried the rules in his pocket but refused to read those rules, Seewald said.

He said that each Buckeye Five ticket explains the cap and that the Lottery "does a fairly good job of publicizing their rules and I think people have an obligation not to be damn idiots."

But Kabat put on a strong case, Seewald said. "Absolutely, he deserves credit. He put together a winner."

Seewald said he will appeal the verdict because the jury's award could put his client out of business.

"It could literally destroy him," he said.

Plain Dealer

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13 comments. Last comment 16 years ago by JADELottery.
Page 1 of 1
United States
Member #3522
January 27, 2004
372 Posts
Posted: March 25, 2004, 7:54 am - IP Logged

Another perfect example of americans not being able to take responsibility for their own actions. Blame the other guy.

It's not my fault I have lung cancer. It's RJ Reynolds and the store owner who sold me the cancer sticks for the past twenty-five years.

It's not my fault I'm a big fat unhealthy slob. It's McDonalds for stuffing Big Macs and fries down my throat for years.

It's not the terrorists fault they crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center. It's George W. Bushs Fault!!

I wish the store owner well, and hope this ruling is over turned.

Play responsibly and have fun,  Chas   

    Bemidji MN
    United States
    Member #3340
    January 13, 2004
    114 Posts
    Posted: March 25, 2004, 9:35 am - IP Logged

    Stories like this cause me to shake my head in total disbelief and amazement.

    My favorite one is something that happened a  number of years ago. A burgler breaks into a home that had an alarm. The alarm sounds, the police come and arrest the burgler. The burgler sued the homeowner, saying that a warning sign should have been posted...and WON.

    "Announcing your plans is a good way to hear God laugh"

      New Member

      United States
      Member #3687
      February 12, 2004
      10 Posts
      Posted: March 25, 2004, 10:03 am - IP Logged

      A guy in Wisconsin is suing his cable company for not turning off the cable after he cancelled his account there.

      He's claiming that the free cable has made his children lazy, and made him and his wife fat because all they do is watch the cable, that they didnt want......

      Tis a beautiful world we live, too bad the people screw it up.


        United States
        Member #972
        December 30, 2002
        468 Posts
        Posted: March 25, 2004, 10:32 am - IP Logged

        Anyone who spends $125,000 a year on lottery tickets has a serious gambling problem. How can anyone spend that much and be that obsessed but not know the rules of the game he is playing? If the $100,000 had been advertised or had rules that used words like "guaranteed" I could see it, but that doesn't seem to have been the case.  If store owners are to be gambling counselors and rule explainers as well, I hope they are getting a bigger slice of the pie.  If the state doesn't pay off the court verdict, I hope every lottery vendor in Ohio shuts off their machine.

        About 13 years ago, Massachusetts' $100,000 Mass Cash Game *did* use the word "guaranteed" in ads. As in "Jackpots are a guaranteed $100,000". It was a blatant lie. One day the winning number was 1-2-3-7-8-9, and many angry people found out their "guaranteed" $100,000 was about $14,000 after being split among 35 people. I wish Mass. had been sued over that one, which was a much better case than this guy. 

          United States
          Member #1759
          June 29, 2003
          1156 Posts
          Posted: March 25, 2004, 10:48 am - IP Logged

          Maybe they meant the JACKPOT is guaranteed at $100,000 not the actual payout for a winning ticket which depends on the amount of winners if so a CLEARER explanation could be used.

            United States
            Member #3522
            January 27, 2004
            372 Posts
            Posted: March 25, 2004, 10:56 am - IP Logged


            If  1 2 3 4 5 6 would have been drawn, at best they may have had enough money for a good steak dinner.They claim thousands play that combo each day in every state lottery.

            Go figure why?  Chas

              RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
              United States
              Member #9
              March 24, 2001
              20272 Posts
              Posted: March 25, 2004, 11:29 am - IP Logged
              Quote: Originally posted by tg636 on March 25, 2004

               .... How can anyone spend that much and be that obsessed but not know the rules of the game he is playing? .....

              Strung and his attorney probably knew the rules, but depended on a jury not knowing the rules or caring about them.   Many jury decide a verdict on their feelings, not the laws, that the reason may verdicts are overturned when reviewed by judges who goes by what the actual law is and not by what people feel it should be. 

               * you don't need to buy every combination, just the winning ones * 

              Thumbs Up       

                Jake649's avatar - scene sunovermountains.jpg

                Member #2673
                November 2, 2003
                497 Posts
                Posted: March 25, 2004, 11:33 am - IP Logged

                Without knowing all the facts of the case, it is difficult to say you should win the case.

                I can see, though, where the store owner may share some of the liability. Say the player asked the store owner the rules and the store owner gave the player wrong information in order to encourage hime to keep playing the set of numbers several times. The store owner profited from the player's lack of understanding. Did the store owner intentionally contribute to the misunderstanding in order to profit from the player's mistake.

                There is usually two sides to every story.

                Good luck,

                  whodeani's avatar - lightening

                  United States
                  Member #2484
                  October 9, 2003
                  212 Posts
                  Posted: March 25, 2004, 11:34 am - IP Logged

                  This guy deserves 52/53 of the jackpot and nothing more. You need to know the rules of the game you are playing, especially this guy who was playing and spending as much as he was. The daily game I play has a top prize of $250,000 but is capped at $5,000,000 (20 winning tickets). If there are more than 20 winners, the jackpot becomes parimutuel. If I went out and bought 52 tickets with the same numbers and they hit, I would only deserve $5,000,000 and nothing more and it isn't the job of the lottery retailer to make me aware of that.


                    United States
                    Member #381
                    June 5, 2002
                    33 Posts
                    Posted: March 25, 2004, 1:27 pm - IP Logged

                    how about the poor guy that only had 1 ticket. it's value went from 100,000 to 18,000. maybe he should now sue him for the balance of his ticket.


                      DoctorEw220's avatar - alien helmet.jpg
                      Yinzer Country, PA
                      United States
                      Member #4067
                      March 18, 2004
                      2741 Posts
                      Posted: March 25, 2004, 6:25 pm - IP Logged

                      the ohio lottery website clearly explains about the liability cap of the game.  the guy should not even have had a case, and i hope the IRS taxes him out the ass.

                        WILLSELL's avatar - chi
                        United States
                        Member #1924
                        July 28, 2003
                        113 Posts
                        Posted: March 25, 2004, 8:05 pm - IP Logged

                        The judicial system is a big joke. I had a conversation with someone who was recently on a jury. She was amazed at what really went on during deliberations.

                        Individual jurors had the person convicted before they even weight the facts. Others wanted to convict so they would not have to waste time and get home or to their jobs, that typically don't cover the salry while out on jury duty.

                        The courts know these factors and surely the lawyers do.

                        So what is the point of a jury when when any judge can simply overule the verdict?

                        As for the 52 ticket dummy.He knew the rules. anyone that can spend 125,000 on tickets most asuredly knows how to read unless they are drug dealers etc...

                        I feel sorry for the store owner. He was in a no win situation. No sane store owner would dare suggest that one is spending too much on tickets.


                          Member #21
                          December 7, 2001
                          4530 Posts
                          Posted: March 26, 2004, 1:56 am - IP Logged

                          looks like precedence for this thread - Winning Powerball in dispute