An Ontario woman is suing her former common-law partner for allegedly denying that the couple had won $6 million in a provincial lottery before claiming the full prize for himself.
Denise Robertson’s lawsuit against Maurice Thibeault and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation alleges the winning ticket was purchased with the understanding that any winnings would be split between the two parties.
Robertson’s statement of claim alleges Thibeault kept up a long-standing tradition and purchased a ticket for the Sept. 20, 2017 draw, but later denied that it was a winner.
Days later, she alleges he packed up his belongings, left their home and tried to redeem the winning ticket. The OLG has since paid Thibeault half the prize while the rest remains in legal limbo.
Robertson’s suit accuses Thibeault of breach of trust and unjust enrichment and seeks the roughly $3 million that would represent half the winnings from the lottery ticket, plus an additional half a million dollars in aggravated damages. She is asking that a jury hear her civil suit.
Representatives of OLG declined to offer specific comment on the suit, but Thibeault’s lawyer Richard Pollock said his client denies there was ever an agreement in place with his former partner.
Pollock said Thibeault has readily complied with an OLG investigation into the matter and criticized Robertson for not taking part in an agency arbitration process to resolve the dispute.
“There’s a statement of claim, and there is the truth,” Pollock said in a telephone interview. “And the truth is that my client has participated with the OLG investigation in every respect, including offering to take a polygraph examination.”
Pollock added that Thibeault had gone through with the polygraph and passed “with flying colours.”
Robertson’s lawyer Steven Pickard said his client decided to pursue a lawsuit in lieu of the arbitration process, arguing a court procedure would give both parties a better opportunity for a full investigation and fair hearing.
“The jury is critical in this,” Pickard said. “I think this is a case where the public and the community needs to weigh in and say what they think is appropriate and what’s acceptable in society.”
Robertson’s statement of claim alleges that she and Thibeault regularly bought lottery tickets together throughout their nearly two-year-long common-law relationship, with both members of the couple purchasing or paying for the tickets at different times.
The statement said both Robertson and Thibeault loved muscle cars and dreamed of purchasing a vehicle each, a piece of large country property near their home in Chatham, Ont., and a shop in which they could indulge their shared hobby. The statement of claim said both parties had an understanding that they would split any winnings that came from their lotto purchases.
On Sept. 20, 2017, the OLG announced that a $12 million prize was to be split between two tickets — one purchased in Quebec, the other in Chatham.
The statement of claim said Robertson texted Thibeault urging him to check whether their ticket was among the winners. He agreed to do so, but later told both Robertson and some of their mutual friends that they had not won anything, the statement alleges.
Three days later, Robertson said Thibeault told her he was driving to London, Ont., for a granite installation job. When Robertson got home from work, however, the statement of claim alleged she found he had packed up his belongings and left their home.
“When Denise looks back, she recalls that he did approximately 15 loads of laundry of all his clothes the night prior, and didn’t put them into the drawers and closets, as if they was preparing to pack up and leave,” the document said.
Later that week, Robertson alleges she got word from a mutual friend that Thibeault had sent a text to his boss announcing the end of his relationship, giving in his notice and displaying a picture of the winning ticket.
Robertson sought an injunction preventing the OLG from paying out the full amount. In January, the corporation paid Thibeault half of the $6 million prize, since that sum was not in question.
OLG said it intended to pay the remaining money “into court,” but said it could not offer further comment.
Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press