A woman in Ontario has filed a statement of claim against her former boyfriend over a lottery jackpot that she says she should have half of.
Denise Robertson filed the claim in a Windsor, Ontario court against her ex-boyfriend Maurice Thibeault on Monday. She’s hoping to get half of the C$6.1 million ($4.85 million) prize, as well as an additional half-million ($397,000) in punitive damages. The lawsuit accused Thibeault of breach of trust and unjust enrichment.
Thibeault Leaves After Jackpot
The story began last September, when Thibeault bought a Lotto 6/49 ticket that ended up being one of two winners that split the jackpot prize. At the time, Robertson and Thibeault had been living together for two years.
According to Robertson, the two would regularly buy lottery tickets together, with the plan being to keep the money as a couple if either of them managed to win.
When she heard the next day that one of the winning tickets was sold in their hometown of Chatham, she texted Thibeault to see if they had the winner.
Robertson says that Thibeault told her that they had not won the lottery. A few days later, he moved out of their home without any warning.
“When I look back, I recall that he did approximately 15 loads of laundry of all his clothes the night prior, and didn’t put them into the drawers and closets as if he was preparing to pack up and leave,” Robertson said in a statement last October.
Thibeault quit his job, then attempted to claim his winnings. Robertson responded by hiring lawyers who succeeded in getting a court injunction to prevent any payout until the Ontario lottery regulator, known as the OLG, could determine who had a claim to the winnings.
Half of Prize Already Paid
In early December, the OLG did released half of the winnings to Thibeault after determining that he was conclusively owed at least that portion of the prize money. A lottery spokesperson has said that the other half of the prize will be paid to the court to hold the funds until the legal process plays out.
That could take a long time. Richard Pollock, the lawyer representing Thibeault, says that the case might take two to three years to get to court. According to Pollock, the case is about protecting Thibeault’s good name just as much as his winnings.
“Mr. Thibeault said there was never any agreement between him and Ms. Robertson,” Pollock told Global News. “He has co-operated fully with OLG including offering a polygraphic examination. He submitted to one and passed with flying colors.”
Robertson is hoping that the case will eventually be heard by a jury. Her lawyer, Steven Pickard, says that getting the facts on the record for all to see is critical.
“I think it’s a case that the public has an interest in it, as it’s something that offends a sense of morality and juries are a way to allow the public to decide what is right,” Pickard said.