Finders payers, losers takers

Last February, I wrote about a bit of a dust-up in Massachusetts. A guy bought a bunch of scratch tickets, then scratched ’em all. The winners he kept; the losers went into the trash.

Well, almost. He did toss one winner into the trash. A winning ticket worth $1,000,000.00.

Another guy who makes a little money by going through those tossed would-be losing tickets looking for overlooked winners found it, tried to claim it. That’s when it got messy.

The buyer sued for it, and the finder refused. I came down firmly on the side of the finder — the owner had it and for whatever reason threw it in the trash. To me, he lost all claim to the ticket the instant he chose to discard it and it left his possession. It was anyone’s at that point who chose to fish it out of the trash — which this other guy did.

Well, the original buyer has died since, but his estate’s kept up the fight. And the two sides have finally come up with a settlement — the finder will give his heirs $140,000 of the payout, over 20 years.

The story doesn’t say, but I suspect that sympathy was a factor in the finder’s decision.

That, and the fact that he had a slam-dunk common sense case on his hands — but he was being sued in a Massachusetts court, and god knows how THAT will end up. Judging by other precedents, the courts could rule that the original buyer had married the ticket, committed bigamy by doing so, and therefore forfeited all claims to it — with the state taking the money.

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One Response

  1. Jim Addison August 27, 2006