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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. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  2. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  3. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  4. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  5. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

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