ILNews

COA reverses judgment on contract-rescission claim against lottery

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The Indiana Court of Appeals will allow lottery scratch-off game players’ claim of contract rescission against the state’s lottery commission to proceed to trial, but the court affirmed summary judgment in favor of the commission on the other claims filed by the players in a class-action suit.

In Jeff Koehlinger, et al. v. State Lottery Commission of Indiana, No. 49A02-1003-CT-247, Jeff Koehlinger and other plaintiffs sued the State Lottery Commission of Indiana for contract rescission, false advertisement, negligence, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, restitution, and money had and received. They sued because of misrepresentations on the lottery’s website regarding the odds of winning when purchasing “Cash Blast” tickets. More than 2.5 million tickets had to be replaced before they went on sale because of a manufacturing defect; this caused the lottery’s computer system to overstate the number of unclaimed prizes on the website. After 14 months, lottery officials noticed the error and adjusted for the actual number of unclaimed prizes, which resulted in a 1,260 percent decrease in the number of unclaimed prizes.

Players were upset and wanted the lottery commission to make it right, although the commission never informed players how to initiate an administrative process nor provided information about it.

The trial court denied the class’s motion for summary judgment and granted summary judgment for the commission.

The appellate judges affirmed summary judgment in favor of the lottery commission that it has immunity under the Deceptive Consumer Sales Act, and on the quasi-contractual claims for unjust enrichment, money had and received, and restitution. They also affirmed not granting summary judgment for the commission on the basis that the class had failed to exhaust their administrative remedies.

The majority affirmed summary judgment on the negligence and negligent misrepresentation claims. Judge Patricia Riley dissented on this issue because the designated evidence supported a genuine issue of material fact. The commission had a duty to exercise reasonable care not to misinform its customers about the remaining prizes in the Cash Blast game, she wrote. It breached that duty when it didn’t accurately represent those numbers and it even admitted it was a mistake not to catch this reporting for 14 months.

Judge Riley also concurred in result with her colleagues on reversing summary judgment for the lottery commission on the contract-rescission claim and remanding for trial. Some class members had designated evidence that establishes they relied on the misinformation on the lottery’s website when deciding to buy the tickets. The majority also concluded it was reasonable to infer that many of those players suffered prejudice as a result of detrimental reliance.

“If a player can prove to the trial court that he or she relied on the Lottery’s misinformation to his or her detriment, that player will be entitled to rescission,” wrote Judge Cale Bradford.
 

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  1. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

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