Rose Bakaysa and Theresa Sokaitis have been fighting over a winning Powerball ticket since 2005. Now they're fighting in court. The sisters, aged 84 and 87, apparently agreed in writing to share and share alike any gambling winnings in 1995, but Ms. Bakaysa told Ms. Sokaitis she destroyed her copy of the contract in 2004. Ms. Sokaitis then sued her sister. A lower court sided with Ms. Bakaysa, saying the contract was illegal because it was against public policy to agree to share illegal winnings, but the Supreme Court of Connecticut told the sisters that the agreement concerning the sharing of legal gaming winnings is fine, so the case could go to trial. Read more here. The total amount of the lottery jackpot is only $500,000. How much will attorneys' fees and court costs consume when all of this is over?
Update: Bruce Carton of Legal Blog Watch wonders "where's the magic" in this story?" and he's right--I wandered away (as I sometimes do) before I made my thoughts about the magic in this saga explicit.
I can see two "law and magic" themes in this rather sad tale. First, the gaming angle--I've blogged lottery and gaming stories here before. Trying to make money via gaming on the theory that one can make money by chance is essentially trying to make money "by magic." And it usually doesn't work.
Second, Ms. Bakaysa apparently thought by tearing up the contract she could make the agreement between her and her sister "disappear". Poof. As if by magic. It's an interesting concept, isn't it? But of course Ms. Sokaitis kept her copy, it seems. So if Ms. Bakaysa's assertion is that the contract existed only because the paper on which it was written said it was so, and she destroyed it in order to undo the agreement, then she may be in for some judicial magic.
That's the best I can do. Ultimately I thought it was a rather sad commentary on how people fall out over money and other things that have and do lead them to try to invoke magic to control them. My pre-cious....