The owners of the Mobil station where a Long Beach man’s son bought a $5 million Scratchers ticket, only to have lottery officials deny the man the award because his boy was a minor, is countersuing the plaintiff because the teen allegedly lied to employees and said he was more than 18 years old.
Bilabob Inc., which owns the Mobil station on Bellflower Boulevard in Long Beach, brought the countersuit Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court against Ward Foster Thomas as well as his son. The complaint alleges fraud and deceit and negligent misrepresentation and supervision. The suit also seeks compensation from the Thomases for any judgment rendered against Bilabob.
Molly McKibben, an attorney for Ward Thomas, could not be immediately reached.
Ward Thomas’ lawsuit, filed July 20, alleges failure to discharge a mandatory duty, breach of contract, negligence and both intentional and negligent representation. He also is suing Bilabob. His son bought the ticket at the company’s Mobil station in October 2016.
Thomas says his son obtained five Scratchers tickets at the gas station 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, in December 2016, 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.
No one at the gas station told Thomas’ son that he was too young to buy a lottery ticket, the suit states.
The suit further alleges the commission failed to enforce its own rules in the operation of the lottery and that the commission engaged in false advertising by not publicizing that lottery ticket buyers had to be at least 18 years old.
However, according to the Bilabob countersuit, Thomas’ son previously showed the gas station employees a driver’s license showing that he was an adult.
The teen “became a regular and known customer who had presented identification establishing that he was over the age of 18 to several store employees, so Benjamin’s identification was no longer regularly checked by the store employees who knew and recognized him,” the countersuit states.
In September 2016, a month before purchasing the $5 million ticket, the teen bought a $1,000 winning Scratchers ticket at the same gas station that was honored by lottery officials, the countersuit states.
To buy the Scratchers tickets, Thomas’ son falsely used a “fake, but realistic driver’s license” showing that he was an adult and he said he was a student at Cal State Long Beach, the countersuit states.
In reality, the teen was a high school student who lived with his parents, according to the countersuit.
Ward Thomas knew his son was a “prolific” buyer of Scratchers tickets and assented to his purchases of them, knowing that Ward Thomas himself would submit a claim for any large prize his son won, the countersuit alleges.
Meanwhile, lottery officials are asking a judge to dismiss the allegations against them, saying Ward Thomas and his son engaged in “illegal gambling.” A hearing is scheduled February 7.
Support our journalism.
Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.