NH Lottery Commission wants Powerball winner's lawsuit dismissed, citing Right-to-Know Law.By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
February 12. 2018 11:00PM
NASHUA — The state lottery commission is asking a judge to dismiss a recent lawsuit brought forward by a local woman claiming to own the winning $560 million Powerball ticket and fighting to remain anonymous.
(See today's editorial.)
“Petitioner’s desire for normalcy and anonymity is substantially outweighed by the public’s right to transparency in the operation of lottery games,” wrote Assistant Attorney General John Conforti.
According to the state’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, the lottery commission believes it is legally obligated to release the lottery ticket with the name and hometown of the winner under the state’s Right-to-Know Law.
The woman said she has already signed the ticket with her name. Had the ticket been signed by the trustee of a designated trust, the winner could have maintained her privacy.
Lottery rules require a winner to complete and sign the back of a winning Powerball ticket before being able to claim the prize.
Attorneys for the woman recently filed a lawsuit in Hillsborough County Superior Court asking for her identity to remain a secret.
“Petitioner’s understandable yearning for normalcy after entering a lottery to win hundreds of millions of dollars is not a sufficient basis to shut the public out of the business of government,” wrote Conforti.
In addition, he maintains that lottery participants voluntarily accept that some degree of information is being submitted to a government entity and may be available to the public under the Right-to-Know Law.
A hearing has been scheduled for 10:30 a.m. today to discuss the merits of the case.
The woman, identified in court documents only as Jane Doe, has hired the law firm Shaheen and Gordon to represent her.
Attorney Steven Gordon states in court documents that his client is losing about $14,000 in interest every day that she is unable to claim her prize.
He said the disclosure of her identity would constitute an invasion of privacy because the limited public interest is outweighed by Doe’s interest in remaining anonymous and that her half-billion dollars in winnings are certain to attract unwanted and malicious attention.
“While petitioner argues that she did not expect to lose her privacy by purchasing the ticket, all lottery participants play the game subject to the New Hampshire Lottery administrative rules and other applicable lottery rules,” argued Conforti. The rules require a winner of more than $599 to “produce a valid identification, sign the ticket with their name and address and submit a claim form with personal information.”
Doe submitted a motion for approval of a payment of the lottery winnings to a designated trust on Monday, according to court documents. But the state contends that even if the winner now elects to assign the ticket to a trust, the ticket itself will need to be submitted in its original form — with her signature and hometown.
Conforti said the commission is willing to work with the winner to assist her in any manner allowed under the law, but that the commission must act in accordance with the law.