A Chatham, Ont. woman is hoping a jury will help her claim more than $3 million that has been stuck in legal limbo since her ex-boyfriend cashed in a winning lottery ticket half of which, she says, belongs to her.
Denise Robertson filed a statement of claim against Maurice Thibeault in a Windsor court on Tuesday, for breach of trust, unjust enrichment, conversion, deceit and general damages.
Her lawyer, Steve Pickard, said Robertson is also seeking a declaration that she is the owner of half of the winnings, plus $500,000 in damages and that Thibeault covers her court costs.
Pickard has also asked for the matter to be tried by jury.
'Together we dreamed about winning the lotto.' — Denise Roberston, sworn affidavit
"I think it's more appropriate that this kind of case is heard by a jury because it is something that touches on... what the standards of morality are and what the community wants their law to be," he said.
Robertson and Thibeault have been fighting over the winnings since late last year, after a ticket he bought won $6.1 million. Thibeault did not tell her and moved out days later.
She maintains they had an agreement to share any lottery winnings, a claim he denies.
"This is no more complicated than a game of bingo," Thibeault's lawyer, Richard Pollock, told CBC Windsor on Tuesday.
"He purchased a ticket, he won the ticket, he has claimed the prize. He is a good and honest man and what is at stake here is his reputation."
Thibeault paid half
Robertson alleges she and Thibeault had been in a common law relationship and buying Lotto 6/49 tickets together and splitting the winnings for years.
"Together we dreamed about winning the lotto," she said in a sworn affidavit, filed in October.
"We both love muscle cars, we would each buy one and buy a large property in the country and build a large shop to work on our cars."
After hearing about two winning tickets, one sold in Chatham and one in Quebec, that would split a $12 million jackpot, Robertson excitedly texted Thibeault about the possibility they could be millionaires.
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But when he got home, Robertson said Thibeault "made it clear" they did not win, according to the affidavit.
Days later, Thibeault left for work and did not come back. Robertson said she came home to find his clothes and passport gone and later learned he had quit his job.
She filed a court injunction to stop the payout. After an investigation the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission paid half to Thibeault — it released a photo of him holding up a cheque for $3,073,361.30 on Jan. 5 — but held on to the other half, pending some resolution between them or a court ruling.
That half will be temporarily handed over to Ontario Superior Court, according to OLG spokesperson Rui Brum.
"It really is the only option [to get the money]," said Pickard. "In this particular case we think ... a jury is going to agree that he should not be keeping the winnings and that Denise Robertson is truly entitled as the owner of half of that ticket."