Man Sues Delaware Lottery Over Lost Jackpot Ticket - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Man Sues Delaware Lottery Over Lost Jackpot Ticket

(Photo: AP) (Photo: AP)

DOVER, Del. (AP)- Bob Palese believes he had the winning $5 million lottery ticket, but he says it was destroyed in the laundry.

Now, he is suing the Delaware State Lottery Office, saying they should be able to figure out that he did, indeed, buy the ticket.

In a lawsuit filed this month in Chancery Court in Wilmington, the 48-year-old Bear resident accuses the lottery office and its director, Wayne Lemons, of failing to investigate his claim that he won the March 21, 2003, game.

Lottery officials announced in March 2004 that a $5 million jackpot was returned to the state general fund after the holder of the winning ticket from the March 21, 2003, contest failed to collect it.

Palese said the state can determine he is the winner by using its computerized lottery system to verify that he played four other sets of numbers along with the winning numbers, 09-13-19-24-27-35, at Valentina Liquors in Bear.

Palese says he knows what the other sets of numbers were because he kept the card he marked to buy his ticket.

"It's a virtual statistical impossibility that anyone besides (Palese) had played the same five 6-number combinations," the lawsuit says.

Lemons was not available to discuss Palese's claims. Lottery spokesman Brian Peters and the state Attorney General's Office, which represents the lottery in legal matters, would not comment.

Palese first tried to collect the prize a few weeks after the drawing by writing a letter to the lottery. But Lemons replied in a letter that Palese would have to wait one year from the date of the drawing for a review of his claim, the lawsuit says. Shortly after the one-year anniversary of the drawing, however, Palese saw an item in the newspaper reporting the jackpot had been returned to the general fund.

When he questioned lottery officials about it, they told him not to believe everything he read in the paper and a few days later asked for details about Palese's purchase and loss of the ticket, the lawsuit says.

Palese said the ticket was destroyed after he put it in the pocket of his jeans and then ran the jeans through the washer and dryer.

"Never once did they say to me, 'Mr. Palese, if you don't have the ticket, you don't win the money,'" he said.

Despite these efforts, Lemons told him through a letter in mid-April 2004 that he could not claim the prize without the winning ticket.

This is the second lawsuit Palese has filed to try to collect the winnings. He voluntarily withdrew the case he filed in Superior Court in December 2004.


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