Man who plucked winning ticket from trash settles suit
BLACKSTONE, Mass. (AP) - A man who retrieved a $1 million US lottery ticket from the trash reached a settlement with the family of the man who claimed he accidentally threw it away.
Edward St. John, 83, agreed to give up $140,000 of the winnings because he wanted to enjoy the windfall before he died, his lawyer said.
St. John was sued after finding the Hold 'em Poker scratch ticket in October 2005 while searching through the trash at a local convenience store for discarded winning tickets, something he regularly did.
Kevin Donovan, 49, who said he had bought every Hold 'em Poker ticket in the store earlier in the day but accidentally threw out the winner, protested St. John's claim to the winnings before the Massachusetts Lottery Commission. The commission rejected the claim in April, ruling that a lottery ticket was like cash, requiring only possession to show ownership.
Donovan died of a heart attack shortly afterward. His surviving children then challenged the commission ruling in court.
St. John's lawyer, Scott Ambler, said his client was reluctant to agree to the settlement because he believed he deserved the entire prize. But Ambler said that Donovan's estate could have conceivably kept the case in court for so long that St. John might have died before it was resolved.
"If Mr. St. John had passed away before he got a chance to enjoy anything, that would have been the biggest shame of all," Ambler told The Call of Woonsocket, R.I.
Under the settlement, approved Tuesday by a judge, St. John gets $43,000 annually for 20 years, before taxes, while Donovan's estate gets $7,000 annually.