Theresa Sokaitis, 84, of Middletown, and Rose Bakaysa, 87, of Plainville, haven't spoken to each other in years. A trial over how the winnings should be split -- or whether they should be split at all -- began Tuesday.
At issue is the ownership of the prize money. The sisters often used to gamble together, and had a contract that stated they would split all their winnings.
But after a rift formed over a small debt, they supposedly ended the agreement. Until Bakaysa -- in partnership with her brother -- bought the half-million-dollar winning ticket.
When Sokaitis found out about the win, she wanted a share of the money, and took her sister to court to get it.
Plaintiff's Attorney Calls Situation 'Unfortunate'
The Associated Press reported that Bakaysa testified about the argument.
"She was shouting, 'I don't want to be your partner anymore.' I said all right, that was it, I tore up my contract," Bakaysa said, sitting about 25 feet from Sokaitis as her sister hung her cane on the courtroom railing.
Sokaitis acknowledges they had a tiff, but believes the contract was still in place.
After the disagreement, Bakaysa subsequently teamed with their brother, Joseph Troy Sr.
In 2005, he used Bakaysa's numbers to buy a ticket, the AP reported. The ticket was the $500,000 winner.
Sam Pollack, Sokaitis' attorney, said Bakaysa should have split the jackpot, calling the court action "unfortunate."
Judge Will Rule in a Few Months
"One thing Theresa Sokaitis has maintained throughout is that the thing she is most upset about is she's lost a relationship with her sister, and that's the unfortunate by-product of this," he said, according to NECN, the ABC News affiliate station in Newton, Mass.
But Bill Sweeney, Bakaysa's attorney, maintains that the contract had been rescinded and no money is owed to Sokaitis, NECN said.
According to the AP, a judge had dismissed Sokaitis' lawsuit under a Connecticut law that makes gambling contracts illegal.
But the state Supreme Court, in a ruling that took effect in August, said the sisters' agreement wasn't covered by that law because it involves legal activities. It said the case could go to trial.
New Britain Superior Court Judge Cynthia K. Swienton, who heard the case Tuesday, said she expects to issue her ruling in the next few months.