Ohio Co-Workers Sue Each Other Over Lotto Winnings

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Talk about adding insult to injury.

Edward Hairston has spent the last five years contributing $5 dollars every month to an office lottery pool with his co-workers at the KraftMaid company, a kitchen and bathroom cabinetry manufacturer based in Ohio. The employees work in customer service and other logistics departments.

This past June, Hairston, of Albany, Ohio, went on medical leave for a back injury. And as luck would have it, the group of 20-plus employees finally won on Aug. 5, according to a report by local news outlet WKBN-27. Winning the Ohio Mega Millions lottery of $99 billion, each member of the group can look forward to $2 million after taxes.

Hearing about the win, Hairston immediately checked in with his co-workers. When he found himself rebuffed, he sued his co-workers on the basis of a verbal contract that he says he shared with his co-workers, stipulating that they would cover any of their colleagues who were out of the office at the time of a purchase of a winning ticket.

"All because of $15, it's now costing him $2 million," his attorney, Howard Mishkind, told ABCNews.com.

The lawyer representing the 22 winning co-workers spoke to ABC about why the co-workers were not sympathetic to Hairston.



"The plaintiff didn't play for three months, and despite being invited to do so through email he chose not to put money in, therefore he can't be a winner," Kerin Lyn Kaminski argued.

A judge has given orders to the Ohio Lottery Commission to freeze the money until the case is decided.

The KraftMaid case calls to mind the feature film, "Sour Grapes." Written by comedian Larry David, the 1998 movie features two cousins on a trip to Atlantic City. When they throw their last quarters into a slot machine, they find themselves in a KraftMaid-like predicament once they win.

While both examples are unlikely in everyday office life, they both serve as potential lessons for betting at the office, says Andrea Kay, workplace consultant and author of "Work's a Bitch, and Then You Make It Work."

"A lot of management says sure, we expect these things to go on," she tells AOL Jobs. "But you must establish rules from the outset for all workplace betting, because you have a relationship to protect. With a friend, maybe you get over it, and maybe you lose a friend. But you move on. But with co-workers, animosity can build up and become a problem."



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