UPDATE: Attorney General Says State Not Responsible for Clerk Who Sold Underage Teen Winning $5 Million Lottery Scratcher

UPDATE | The state Attorney General’s Office revealed in new court papers that part of the lawsuit filed by Ward Thomas of Long Beach alleging he was wrongfully denied a $5 million Scratchers prize because his 16-year-old son bought the winning ticket should be dismissed because of “illegal gambling” committed by him and his son.

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Even if the ticket bought by Thomas’ teenage son was found to be lawful, the part of Thomas’ case against the state of California and the California State Lottery Commission should be dismissed on immunity grounds and because the government cannot be held liable for the acts of the gas station clerk who sold the boy the ticket, Deputy Attorney General James Waian maintained in court papers filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Thomas’ Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges failure to discharge a mandatory duty, breach of contract, negligence and both intentional and negligent representation. He also is suing the Mobil station on Bellflower Boulevard in Long Beach where his son bought the ticket last October 16. The lawsuit was filed on July 20.

Anyone under 18 years of age who buys a ticket or share in a Lottery, or who tries to claim a prize with a ticket bought by someone who is 18, is guilty of a misdemeanor, according to Waian’s court papers.

“In a perverse twist, plaintiff is seeking to profit from admittedly participating in illegal gambling by a minor and claiming a prize on an invalid ticket, activity that the California Lottery specifically protects against,” Waian stated in the papers.

Thomas says his son bought five Scratchers tickets at the Mobil station by exchanging other winning tickets. One of the five was a winning ticket with a $5 million prize, the suit states.

Even if Thomas and his son were not made aware of the age requirement—the suit states no one at the gas station, which is also a defendant, told Thomas’ son he was too young to buy a lottery ticket—“ignorance of the law is no excuse,” stated Waian’s court papers.

In addition, Thomas makes a “convoluted effort” to link the state and the commission to the action of the Mobil clerk who sold the ticket to the boy. The court papers state the commission “is not responsible for the actions of retail clerks at lottery retailers.” The complaint does not state how the commission knew Thomas’ son bought the tickets or that he was under 18.

A hearing on the Attorney General’s dismissal motion is scheduled for November 7 before Judge Terry Green.

City News Service contributed to this report.

PREVIOUSLY: Long Beach Man Sues California Lottery for Ticket Worth $5 Million Bought By Underage Son

7/21/17 at 11:26AM | A Long Beach man sued the state and California Lottery Commission on Thursday, alleging he was wrongfully denied a $5 million Scratchers ticket prize because his 16-year-old son bought the winning ticket.

Ward Thomas says his son bought five Scratchers tickets at a Mobil station on Bellflower Boulevard in Long Beach on October 16 by exchanging other winning tickets. One of the five was a winning ticket with a $5 million prize, the suit states.

Thomas validated the ticket at a 7-Eleven store in Long Beach that same day and then validated it again the next day at the lottery office in Santa Ana, the suit states.

However, on December 5, the Lottery Commission told Thomas that his award was being denied because his son was a minor and therefore was “not legally able to play the lottery,” the suit states.

The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges failure to discharge a mandatory duty, breach of contract, negligence and both intentional and negligent representation, and seeks unspecified damages.

The complaint does not state how the commission knew Thomas' son bought the tickets and that the purchaser was under age 18, according to reports.

No one at the gas station, which is also a defendant, told Thomas' son that he was too young to buy a lottery ticket, according to the suit.

The suit further alleges the commission failed to enforce its own rules in the operation of the lottery and that it engaged in false advertising by not publicizing that lottery ticket buyers had to be at least 18 years old.

City News Service contributed to this report.



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