Lotto winner sued by stepson cannot sue former lottery operator

Mary Walsh claims she was told if she wished to gift money those persons should sign ticket

A woman taken to court by her stepson for a share in a 2011 €3.3 million Lotto win cannot sue the former operator of the National Lottery for alleged negligence, the High Court ruled on Monday.

Ms Justice Teresa Pilkington ruled that Mary Walsh, who ultimately settled proceedings brought against her by her stepson David Walsh, cannot bring proceedings against the former operators of the Lotto, An Post National Lottery Company.

The company went into voluntary liquidation in 2014.

Because the company is in liquidation, Ms Walsh must get High Court permission to formally bring her claim that she received negligent advice from the former operator regarding the Lotto win.

In her judgment, the judge found the issue of alleged nuisance had been determined in the High Court proceedings against Ms Walsh by her stepson, heard in 2017.

To suggest otherwise would “necessitate repetitious and unnecessary litigation.”

It would “constitute an abuse of process” to allow the claim against An Post National Lottery Company to proceed, she held.

In her intended action against the former operator, Ms Walsh alleged she was given certain advice by a representative of the National Lottery when she went to collect what she claims were her winnings in January 2011.

She claimed the advice, where she was told that if she wished to make gifts to anyone those persons should sign the winning ticket if those gifts were to be exempted from taxation, was negligent.

As a result of the advice she claimed that she and five others, including David Walsh signed the winning ticket. That resulted in High Court proceedings being brought against her by David Walsh. She was married David's father Mr Peter Walsh, who died in December 2011.

The court also heard that she is the subject of separate, but related, proceedings from another signatory of the winning ticket Mr Kevin Black, who is her late husband's nephew.

In her proposed action she had alleged the full implications of that advice were never explained to her, and wishes to bring a claim for damages against An Post National Lottery Company.

The company went into liquidation after another entity was awarded the licence to operate the National Lottery. Her application was opposed on grounds including that it was bound to fail.

In proceedings before the High Court in 2017, Mr Justice Richard Humphreys ruled Mrs Walsh had to pay David Walsh €560,000 plus his legal costs after finding her stepson was a part owner of and entitled to a one-sixth share of a winning ticket purchased in Ballinasloe Co Galway in January 2011.

Mrs Walsh appealed that decision to the Court of Appeal which was told later in 2018 the action was “resolved entirely”.

As part of the settlement, her appeal was allowed.

Mr Walsh, of Knocknagreena, Ballinasloe, Co Galway had sued Mrs Walsh, of Monksland, Athlone, Co Roscommon arguing he was entitled to his share, approximately €560,000, of the win on the grounds his signature was among six written on the back of the winning ticket.

He claimed his late father had told him, shortly after the win, he would be looked after and would not have to worry about money again.

He claimed he did not get his share.

Mrs Walsh denied this and had argued that the winning ticket was hers.

She claimed David Walsh was offered and accepted her and her late husband’s house in lieu of €200,000 from the win.

David Walsh denied that.

Following a seven-day hearing in 2017, Mr Justice Humphreys rejected Mrs Walsh’s arguments and found in favour of David Walsh.