Court rules Lotto winner sued by step son cannot sue former National Lottery operator

Aodhan O Faolain

Reporter:

Aodhan O Faolain

Court rules Lotto winner sued by step son cannot sue former National Lottery operator

The High Court has dismissed an application by a woman who was taken to court by her step son for a share in a 2011 €3.3m Lotto to sue the former operator of the National Lottery for alleged negligence.

In a judgement on Monday Mr Justice Teresa Pilkington ruled that Mary Walsh, who ultimately settled proceedings brought against her by her step-son David Walsh,  cannot bring proceedings against former operators of the Lotto, An Post National Lottery Company.

The company went into voluntary liquidation in 2014. 
As the company is in liquidation Ms Walsh must obtain permission from the High Court before to formally bring her claim that she received negligence advices from the former operator regarding the Lotto win.  

The Judge said in her judgement that she was satisfied the issue of alleged nuisance had been determined in the High Court proceedings brought against Ms Walsh by her step-son that were heard in 2017. 

To suggest otherwise the judge added would "necessitate repetitious and unnecessary litigation."
In the court's view it would "constitute an abuse of process" to allow the proceedings against An Post National Lottery Company to proceed. 

In her 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 that came before the High Court in 2017 Mr Justice Richard Humphreys ruled that 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.

In 2018 the CoA was informed that 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, that 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 that 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.