Woman sues after 'winning' $500,000 scratch-off ticket is called misprint

An Ocala woman wants a jury to decide if the Florida Lottery was wrong to dismiss her winning ticket as a misprint. [via os]

Ann Marie Curcio claims the Lottery is in breach of its contract with buyers because it will not pay $500,000 she says she is owed for her winning Gold Rush ticket.

"We don't believe that there is a sufficient excuse for the Lottery not to pay it. . . . There are no disclaimers on the ticket," said Larry Walters, Curcio's Orlando-based attorney.

Curcio bought her $20 ticket on May 13, 2007. The winning numbers 28, 1, 12, 32 and 2 appeared on the ticket.

She scratched her ticket to find the number 1, which matched the one of the five winning numbers and had $500,000 printed beneath it as the payout.

When Curcio tried to redeem her ticket at the Florida Lottery's Tallahassee offices the following day, she was told that the ticket was misprinted.

Lottery officials say they need to inspect Curcio's ticket to determine whether it is a winning ticket — and that Curcio has not filed a winner's claim form.

"We're sympathetic and empathetic to a player who may feel like they won, but they haven't followed the appropriate protocol," Lottery spokeswoman Jacqueline Barreiros said. "We're not in the business of withholding anything from anyone, but we do have to safeguard the integrity of the game."

Walters said Curcio's ticket was dismissed right away as a misprint, so there was "no point in submitting a form" but that Curcio would be glad to complete one if it meant that the agency would pay her ticket.

The Lottery website reports buyers have a 1-in-2.95 chance of winning at least $20 with a Gold Rush ticket, and a 1-in-2.5-million chance of winning $500,000.

It's not clear how many times people with tickets that are apparent winners have been told that the tickets were misprints.

"We've heard of at least a few other instances of winning tickets that were presented and the Lottery claimed they were misprinted and refused to pay," said Walters.

It's also possible that if a winning ticket could be a misprint, so could a losing one, Walters said.

"We know that if it happens one way, it happens the other way as well," he said.

Curcio also is seeking more than $15,000 in damages, the statutory minimum for a civil suit in circuit court. The suit was filed Wednesday in Leon County.

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