Ohio Man Sues Co-Workers After $99M Lottery Win

Man claims he should've been included in pool but was out of work for an injury.

ByABC News
September 5, 2011, 11:38 PM

Sept. 6, 2011— -- What are the chances that a back injury will cost you millions? For Edward Hairston, the odds are about 1 in 175 million.

The logistics agent at an Ohio, cabinet business is suing his 22 co-workers to receive what he claims is his share of a $99 million lottery prize.

Hairston, declined ABCNews.com's request for an interview, claimed in a lawsuit that he participated in the office lottery pool for eight years with his colleagues, before a back injury put him out of work in June, July and August. The group matched all six winning numbers on Aug. 5.

His attorney, Howard Mishkind, told ABCNews.com there was an implied agreement that co-workers would cover for each other when they were out due to illness or vacation.

"All because of $15, it's now costing him $2 million," Mishkind said.

He added that Hairston even contributed for a co-worker who was out on a leave of absence.

But Kerin Lyn Kaminski, the lawyer representing the 22 winners, told ABCNews.com that wasn't the case.

"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," she said.

Mishkind disputed the claim saying the email was sent to a company address which Hairston could not access from home.

A judge in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court ordered the Ohio Lottery Commission to set aside a portion of the jackpot in the event Hairston won his case. Kaminski said all parties agreed to the move in exchange for a swift resolution of the lawsuit, which will go to trial in December.

This isn't the first time office lottery pools have been contested by absentee co-workers.

In 2005, the so-called "Lucky Seven" group of lab technicians, who had won California's second-largest jackpot ever, were smacked with lawsuits from four co-workers claiming they were entitled to a share of the $315 million Mega Millions jackpot.

A judge ultimately dismissed all four lawsuits.

In 2008, four Piqua, Ohio city workers sued their colleagues, who won $207 million in the Mega Millions lottery, claiming -- like the others, that they weren't at work to contribute to the pool but felt comfortable their co-workers would cover for them. A judge dismissed the suit in September 2009.

In Florida, Jeanette French said not only did her Golf Shop co-workers cover for her while she was away, but she even paid back the $1 they chipped in for her the next day when she returned to the store.

French's seven co-workers won $16 million in the Florida State Lottery last December-- but when it came time to claim the prize, French was left out.

"She had communication with one of the other employees who said he would put in a dollar for her," French's lawyer, Tom Culmo told ABCNews.com. "Employees would routinely cover for each other. She paid back the dollar Thursday morning, and she was given the ticket to check to see if they had won."

French's case is still in litigation.

With history on their side, the 22 newly-minted millionaires are preparing to go to trial in December. Kaminski, the winners' lawyer, said she thinks they have a solid case, saying the lottery commission sums it up best: "You can't win if you don't play."

ABC News' Olivia Katrandjian contributed to this report