Judge scratches lawsuit

Judge scratches lawsuit

Hooray for the judge.

The story in a nutshell:
The NY Daily News (motto: Despite the title, you’ll find no news in here) inserted scratch tickets into their Sunday papers. Grand prize was $100,000. There was to be one grand prize. Due to a printing error with the vendor supplying the tickets, several tickets ended up giving grand prizes. The NY Daily News announced it would randomly choose a grand prize winner from among the winning tickets.

So you are a Daily News reader (and I use the term “reader” very loosely). Sunday morning, you scratch your ticket, and start doing your little happy dance. You just won $100,000. 24 hours later, you hear that you may not have won $100,000, due to a printing error. Time to sue! On what grounds, I don’t know, but this is America, and anytime someone doesn’t cross an “i” or dot a “t”, it’s a suable offense.

They find the lawyer* who lost the race to the ambulance, and get his representation. He goes to the judge, “Daily News made a mistake. They owe us money” Judge says, “Why?”. Lawyer, “Because they made a mistake.” Judge says, “Leave now.”

So the lawyer whines, “Now the Daily News can run a free contest**, make mistakes right and left***, and they can get away with it!” Mind you, he’s not alleging fraud (and if it was, it was the worst fraud you can possibly imagine), he’s not alleging his clients were damaged (such as happens when a doctor makes a mistake), he’s just saying that the paper made a mistake and therefore everyone affected by the mistake is owed money.

Time to lace up the sneakers again, Mr. Mollins.

  • Not an indictment on all lawyers, just the ones who do chase ambulances or waste court time saying that people are coerced into eating McDonalds supersized meals 3x/day and McD’s is responsible for their obesity. I know all lawyers aren’t like this. I even met one…once…six years ago…for about 20 minutes.

** Not that you could ever figure out how to participate without actually buying a paper. But it is theoretically possible to request a scratch card without buying a paper.

*** If you’re going to sue the Daily News for errors, how about suing the Daily News for calling themselves a “newspaper”?

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I’m of mixed feelings about this. Obviously the Daily News isn’t going to pay out hundreds of awards based on this mistake. OTOH, I think it’s pretty damn sleazy to print out hundreds of losing tickets where you have all the right numbers except one 12 instead of a 13. It’s also a real kick in the pants to think you’ve been spending a buck every sunday to get the paper and get in this contest when a “winning” ticket can be deemed invalid because somebody screwed up.

I don’t think a lawsuit over this is unreasonable either. You bought the paper in good faith, scratched off the ticket and found it to be a winner. Why should you just idly accept the paper saying it isn’t a winner? If the judge tells you there’s no basis in the law, then you move on.

I also don’t think this is the same thing as a bank error, since I have no expectation of any sort that my account will suddenly be 10x as big as it was yesterday. With this contest, I (well, the plaintiffs) actively entered it and found a winning ticket.

IIRC, the scratch-off cards were created by a 3rd-party company. They’re the ones I’d be targeting if I were a plaintiff here. I certainly wouldn’t be expecting the full $100,000, but I’d be looking to get something out of the deal.

I wonder how this would be settled if the scratch-offs were put out by a state lottery?

Yeah, but that company is nowhere near as big as The Daily Snooze.

Exactly, friedo. Maybe the lawyer expected the NYDN to know there was a misprinting prior to the scratching? That, of course, would lead to another outcry, when the winner happens to be the neighbor of the NYDN employee in charge of the contest. “Whotta coinkydinks!”

Cheesesteak, I think of this more like a misprinting. If the ad says new Mercedes for $1000 instead of a correct $100000, the dealership is not obliged to give you a Mercedes for a thousand dollars. If you can prove fraud (very difficult), that’s another story.