Judge: No partial payout of $118M lottery prize
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org February 28, 2013 5:54PM
Updated: April 2, 2013 6:34AM
The $118 million won in May in a Mega Millions drawing by employees of a bakery in Chicago Heights still is collecting dust.
A Cook County judge on Thursday refused a motion to award a partial payment of the winnings to 12 workers who say the money should be split between them.
Attorney Michael Haugh filed a request that 12/18ths of the money be given to the workers pending the result of various lawsuits from six other employees who claim they are entitled to share in the winnings.
“Sometimes you lose the battle, but you win the war,” Haugh said of Thursday’s ruling going against his clients.
The other six workers claim they each are entitled to a share of the money because they usually were in the lottery pool at Pita Pan Bakery, 401 E. Joe Orr Road.
The plaintiffs contend they should be entitled to shares of the big prize because their money was invested in the pool used to buy tickets for the May 1 drawing that won $9 and that the $9 was reinvested in the May 4 drawing that saw the group buy the ticket worth $118 million.
The defendants claim to have paid extra money into the pool for the May 4 drawing and don’t believe the prize should be divided beyond the group of 12.
In a written decision, Judge Kathleen Pantle said that it would “be improper” to order a payout before the issue is settled.
The money is not collecting interest, Haugh said.
“My clients are a little disappointed, but I think ultimately my clients will be determined as the winners,” Haugh said.
His clients, he said, are eager to get the money because some of them quit their jobs at the bakery after they learned they held the winning ticket.
“I’m sure they’re watching every dollar. They’re all doing their best to keep a positive face on this. It’s not a question of if they’ll get the money but when they’ll get the money,” Haugh said.
Michael Lamonica, who represents two of the plaintiffs, said Thursday’s ruling “doesn’t really change things.”
“We feel strongly the law’s on our side,” Lamonica said.
Both sides have to do discovery for the case, he said, and depositions will be taken. The case is far from going to trial, Lamonica said.
His clients “are upset this is happening and that they have to go through this” but they are also “hopeful” regarding their chances, he said.