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$10,000 winner suing Tennessee lottery

Jul 19, 2004, 8:23 am

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Tennessee LotteryTennessee Lottery: $10,000 winner suing Tennessee lottery

How much is a lost chance at $1 million worth?

That's the crucial question raised by a lawsuit filed by a Fayetteville man who claims mistakes during the state's first $1 million lottery drawing cost him a chance at the top prize.

But determining how much he was damaged by a lost chance would be difficult, local attorneys said.

Dennis Perry, a 57-year-old disabled veteran, won $10,000 in the June 26 drawing at Opry Mills. He was one of three finalists for the big prize. In a lawsuit filed in Lincoln County, he is seeking as damages the $990,000 he didn't win.

Perry says the lottery did not follow its own rules for the drawing. He has sued the lottery commission and others involved in hosting the drawing.

Officials declined to comment.

Lottery foul-ups rare

John Day, a civil attorney in Nashville who is not involved in the case, likened the lawsuit to a top poker player's suing an airline because it canceled his flight to a poker match.

''He lost a chance at a chance of winning,'' Day said. ''He didn't lose winning. Absent some sort of fraud in this case, I don't see any harm done.''

Day said the only provable monetary damage in the case is the money Perry spent on the scratch-off lottery ticket that won him entry in the drawing. He suggested the lottery reimburse Perry for the $1 he spent on the ticket at Tobacco Express in Fayetteville.

''The law says you have to prove damages with reasonable certainty,'' he said. ''In my opinion, they should offer him his money back because that's all he had invested.''

Nashville attorney Gary Blackburn said Perry had a good chance of proving that the lottery effectively breached its contract with him by failing to conduct the drawing according to the rules. But proving that Perry would have won $1 million, or even the second-place prize $25,000 would be tough, he said.

''The basic rule of law is never award damages based on speculation,'' Blackburn said. ''If the contract was breached, he has to show that more than likely he would have won more than $10,000, and that's the problem.''

Perry's attorney, Raymond Fraley, of Fayetteville, conceded that proving damages would be difficult. But he said the mistakes made during the drawing removed the randomness of it and that therefore the results were invalid.

According to the drawing rules, the three contestants were supposed to select an envelope that would either award them $10,000 or send them to the next round, for possible awards of $25,000 or $1 million.

The envelopes were attached to a wheel that was spun to mix them up.

Contestant Bridget Magers-Elliott of Stantonville spun the wheel, and the announcer told her to take the envelope that was closest to where a pointer on the wheel landed. The announcer then told the third contestant, Mark Silor who won the $1 million to take the envelope next to that one.

Perry was stuck with the remaining envelope.

That series of dvents, Fraley said, violated the spirit of the rules, which called for the contestants, not the announcer, to choose. Perry ''didn't get to pick an envelope because it was done for him,'' Fraley said. ''And that goof-up involved something as important as who wins $1 million.''

The lottery commission has already given the prize money to the three winners, but Perry said he was not going to spend his winnings until the case is resolved.

''They went against the rules, and I knew everything was messed up when they did it,'' Perry said. ''I'm not going to spend a penny of the money I got until this thing is over. I'm still driving the same old car without an air conditioner.''

If the game had been played by the rules, according to Perry, Magers-Elliott would have picked any envelope she wanted from the wheel, and that could have changed the outcome of the drawing.

Silor and Magers-Elliott (who won the $25,000), could not be reached for comment.

Perry is seeking damages from the Tennessee Lottery; Young Broadcasting of Nashville Inc., the company that owns the local ABC affiliate, WKRN-TV, that aired the drawing; and John Dwyer, the host of the program and a WKRN sportscaster.

Citing the litigation, lottery officials declined to comment. WKRN referred all questions to the lottery. Dwyer's station has asked him not to comment.

Fraley, Perry's attorney, said that Dwyer arrived at the drawing late and didn't have the proper training on how the dvent was to be held.

When Dwyer told each contestant which envelope to take, Fraley said, it raised questions about whether the host was trying to skew the game.

''He flies in late and doesn't have a clue what he's supposed to do, and then tells them which envelopes to take,'' Fraley said. ''That has the appearance of impropriety and leaves people wondering if he knew what was in the envelopes.''


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6 comments. Last comment 17 years ago by CASH Only.
Page 1 of 1
jeffrey's avatar - moon
Hamilton, OH
United States
Member #4162
March 27, 2004
277 Posts

Everyone gets a million, case closed.

    MetroPlex's avatar - 619631
    Richmond, VA
    United States
    Member #5360
    July 1, 2004
    93 Posts

    This is BS, he shouldn't be gi

    Putting The Damage On.

      DoctorEw220's avatar - alien helmet.jpg
      Yinzer Country, PA
      United States
      Member #4067
      March 18, 2004
      2741 Posts

      if he has the rules in writing, then m,aybe he will have a case.  i wonder what the TN lottery is doing about this.

      I've redone my website.  Go to www.dr-ew.com.  I kept a lot of the old stuff, and I've added some new stuff.  Look for more new stuff in the coming weeks.

        New Member
        United States
        Member #4213
        March 31, 2004
        7 Posts

        The TN lottery seems to be in the news a lot lately, especially regarding improper handling and management of the games.

        At first glance, to me anyway, the state lottery is not honest... someone is skimming.

          DoctorEw220's avatar - alien helmet.jpg
          Yinzer Country, PA
          United States
          Member #4067
          March 18, 2004
          2741 Posts

          my guess is that even if the guy is lying, the TN lottery wil try to settle it.

          I've redone my website.  Go to www.dr-ew.com.  I kept a lot of the old stuff, and I've added some new stuff.  Look for more new stuff in the coming weeks.

            United States
            Member #379
            June 5, 2002
            11296 Posts

            Hope the $1 million wasn't annuity-only.