THERESA SOKAITIS v. ROSE BAKAYSA, SC 18130

Judicial District of New Britain

 

     Contracts; Gambling; Whether the Parties' Contract Calling for them to Share Equally in any Lottery Winnings was Unenforceable Under the Statute (§ 52-553) Prohibiting the Enforcement of Claims Arising out of Gambling Transactions.  On April 12, 1995, the plaintiff and the defendant, who are sisters, signed a written agreement, which provided that they would share equally in any winnings they received from various forms of legalized gambling, including the lottery.  On June 20, 2005, the parties' brother, Joseph F. Troy, Sr., presented lottery officials with a winning Powerball ticket, worth $500,000, from the June 18, 2005 drawing.  Troy indicated that he held the ticket jointly with the defendant.  Lottery officials paid Troy and the defendant each $249,999 less federal tax withholding.  The defendant, however, did not provide the plaintiff with any portion of the lottery winnings.  As a result, the plaintiff brought this breach of contract action against the defendant.  The defendant moved for summary judgment, claiming that the agreement was unenforceable under General Statutes § 52-553, which makes void any wager or contract "of which the whole or any part of the consideration" is "money . . . won . . . at any game . . . ."  The trial court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment.  On appeal, the plaintiff argued that because the money from the lottery ticket was not in existence at the time the parties entered into the agreement, that money could not have been "consideration" for the agreement and, therefore, § 52-553 was not applicable.  She  maintained that the consideration was, in fact, the exchange of promises to share profits from legal forms of gambling.  The Appellate Court (105 Conn. App. 663) agreed with the plaintiff and reversed the trial court's judgment.  Specifically, the court ruled that § 52-553 was not applicable to the agreement because the consideration for the agreement was not the money the parties won in the lottery, but rather their mutual promises to one another to share in any winnings they received.  In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the Appellate Court properly concluded that the parties' contract was not unenforceable under § 52-553.