A store owner plans to appeal a jury's decision that he pay $1.3 million to a lottery winner who said the owner failed to warn him about a jackpot cap.
John Struna regularly bought multiple tickets with the same numbers for the Buckeye 5 game at Convenient Food Mart in Cleveland. In October 2001, he chose the winning combination, which he had played on 52 tickets.
The game's prize is $100,000, so Struna thought that amount would be multiplied by 52 for each of his winning tickets, giving him $5.2 million.
But the Ohio Lottery limits the winnings from any single Buckeye 5 game to $1 million.
Struna sued store owner Harry Singh, claiming he did not make the cap clear. The Cuyahoga County Common Pleas jury ruled Wednesday against Singh.
The store owner did what he was supposed to do by giving Struna a copy of lottery rules, said Singh's lawyer, Gary Seewald.
Struna carried the rules in his pocket but did not read them, Seewald said.
The jury's award could put his client out of business, Seewald said.
"It could literally destroy him," he said.
Struna believes neither Singh nor the lottery made the rules clear, said his attorney, Andrew Kabat.
Struna also sued the Ohio Lottery for false advertising, but the Ohio Court of Claims threw out that lawsuit. It is being appealed.
Kabat said Thursday that he hopes the civil judgment inspires the state lottery to be more aggressive about informing players of the rules.
"That has been a request of ours continually," Kabat said. "We have always wanted them to do something to alert players of this cap and they have done nothing to date."
Ohio Lottery spokeswoman Mardele Cohen said the lottery has no plans to change the way it informs players of the rules.
She said the rules are clearly posted on signs given to lottery retailers and on the lottery's Web site. Also, retailers are required to attend training conducted by the state that teaches them about the cap and other rules, she said.
Retailers are not specifically told to explain the rules to players.
"In theory that should be something they should be doing," Cohen said.
Some people buy up to 10 tickets with the same combination trying to win the $1 million maximum prize, she said. "But when we saw that someone bought 52 tickets, it didn't make any sense to us."
Another person had a winning ticket for the drawing Struna won, so he received $981,000 for his tickets.
Messages seeking comment were left Thursday at a telephone listing under Struna's name. There was no home listing for Singh, and a person who answered the phone at the store said it was the wrong number.