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Man appeals dismissal of lottery lawsuit

Jul 25, 2006, 7:43 am

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Delaware Lottery

Robert W. Palese isn't folding just yet.

The 49-year-old Bear resident filed an appeal in Delaware Supreme Court last week challenging a judge's decision to dismiss his claim that he was entitled to a $5 million lottery prize even though he lost the winning ticket in a laundry mishap.

Last month, Chancery Court Vice Chancellor John W. Noble said Palese didn't have a claim because he no longer had the wining ticket.

"He was disappointed at the decision," said Palese's attorney, Patrick J. Collins. "But he is very hopeful that the Supreme Court is going to give him a chance to continue his case."

Collins is appealing Noble's ruling because he thinks it occurred too early in the legal process, preventing him from gathering evidence from depositions and other documentation in the discovery process.

"We filed the appeal mainly because we thought the dismissal was premature and that under prevailing Delaware law, cases like this shouldn't be dismissed without the opportunity to conduct discovery," Collins said.

Deputy Attorney General Michael McTaggart, who represents the state in this legal action, would not comment Friday.

Palese said he had the winning ticket for the March 21, 2003, jackpot, but it was destroyed after he placed it in his jeans and ran them through the washer and dryer.

After the incident, Palese said he contacted the lottery office to explain. According to Palese's lawsuit, lottery director Wayne Lemons wrote him a letter saying he would have to wait one year from the date of the drawing for a review of his claim.

But at the end of the year, lottery officials returned the money to the general fund without reviewing the claim, the lawsuit said.

The state filed a motion to dismiss the case, which was heard in March.

At that time, Collins argued that the lawsuit should continue so his client can determine what Lemons meant when he sent the letter, adding that a possible conclusion was that the lottery director was considering awarding a prize to Palese. If he hadn't, Lemons would have told him in the letter that there was nothing he could do.

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