Civil Litigation

Woman sues ex for half of $6M lottery win

By Staff


An Ontario woman is suing her former common-law partner for allegedly denying that the couple had won $6 million in a provincial lottery before claiming the full prize for himself.

The woman's lawsuit against her ex and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation alleges the winning ticket was purchased with the understanding that any winnings would be split between the two parties.

In an interview with, Toronto civil litigator Sarah O’Connor says the law is generally pretty clear around lotto disputes.

The party seeking to be included in the win would have to prove there was a pattern where they regularly bought lottery tickets together with the other party, she says.

Though she’s not involved with this particular dispute and speaks generally on the matter, O’Connor, principal of O’Connor Richardson Professional Corporation, says disputes around lottery tickets are somewhat common — many involve office pools of co-workers who regularly contribute to weekly tickets. She currently represents individuals in three unrelated cases involving lotto tickets.

In this matter, the woman's statement of claim alleges her ex-partner kept up a long-standing tradition and purchased a ticket for the Sept. 20, 2017 draw, but later denied that it was a winner.

Days later, she alleges he packed up his belongings, left their home and tried to redeem the winning ticket. The OLG has since paid the man half the prize while the rest remains in legal limbo.

The woman's suit accuses her ex-partner of breach of trust and unjust enrichment and seeks the roughly $3 million that would represent half the winnings from the lottery ticket, plus an additional half a million dollars in aggravated damages. She is asking that a jury hear her civil suit.

Representatives of OLG declined to offer specific comment on the suit, but the man's lawyer said his client denies there was ever an agreement in place with his former partner.

The lawyer said his client has readily complied with an OLG investigation into the matter and criticized the woman for not taking part in an agency arbitration process to resolve the dispute.

"There's a statement of claim, and there is the truth,'' the lawyer said in a telephone interview. "And the truth is that my client has participated with the OLG investigation in every respect, including offering to take a polygraph examination.''

He added that his client had gone through with the polygraph and passed "with flying colours.''

The woman's lawyer said his client decided to pursue a lawsuit in lieu of the arbitration process, arguing a court procedure would give both parties a better opportunity for a full investigation and fair hearing.

"The jury is critical in this,'' the woman's lawyer said. "I think this is a case where the public and the community needs to weigh in and say what they think is appropriate and what's acceptable in society.''

Her statement of claim alleges that she and her ex regularly bought lottery tickets together throughout their nearly two-year-long common-law relationship, with both members of the couple purchasing or paying for the tickets at different times.

The statement said both parties loved muscle cars and dreamed of purchasing a vehicle each, a piece of large country property near their home in Chatham, Ont., and a shop in which they could indulge their shared hobby. The statement of claim said both parties had an understanding that they would split any winnings that came from their lotto purchases.

On Sept. 20, 2017, the OLG announced that a $12 million prize was to be split between two tickets — one purchased in Quebec, the other in Chatham.

The statement of claim said the woman texted her common-law partner urging him to check whether their ticket was among the winners. He agreed to do so, but later told her and some of their mutual friends that they had not won anything, the statement alleges.

Three days later, the man told her he was driving to London, Ont., for a granite installation job. When she got home from work, however, the statement of claim alleged she found he had packed up his belongings and left their home.

"When [the woman] looks back, she recalls that he did approximately 15 loads of laundry of all his clothes the night prior, and didn't put them into the drawers and closets, as if [he] was preparing to pack up and leave,'' the document said.

Later that week, she alleges she got word from a mutual friend that the man had sent a text to his boss announcing the end of his relationship, giving in his notice and displaying a picture of the winning ticket.

She sought an injunction preventing the OLG from paying out the full amount. In January, the corporation paid the man half of the $6 million prize, since that sum was not in question.

OLG said it intended to pay the remaining money "into court,'' but said it could not offer further comment.

O’Connor says people who buy lottery tickets with other people can protect themselves against litigation in the event of a win.

“If you’re in a group pool, take a photo of the ticket,” she says. “If you're in an office group buying tickets, designate one person as a group leader who oversees the purchases and sends out a weekly email with the jackpot amount, draw date, cost per play and the cut-off time for payment so there are clear rules around when you can go in.

“You can get whoever is buying the ticket to sign it in-trust so that it signifies it’s being purchased by a group. It’s also important to photocopy or take a photo of each ticket. You need someone in the group to do proper record-keeping.”

O'Connor says people going in on a workplace group lottery ticket could also draft an informal contract where each person signs their name as part of the purchase.

She notes that if there is a dispute, parties have to write to the OLG and then go to court to bring an injunction to stop the organization from paying out the win.

“Then the award gets paid into the court until the matter is resolved,” she says.

Nobody wants to be involved in one of these disputes so it’s important to keep records of your involvement, O’Connor says.

— With files from

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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