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Lawsuit filed over lottery jackpot

Published: Thursday, May 17, 2012 12:13 p.m. CST

CHICAGO (MCT) — Two employees of a Chicago Heights bakery are suing co-workers, saying they are being cut out of a share of the winnings from a recent $118 million Mega Millions jackpot.

According to the suit, Jose L. Franco and Marco Medina were regular participants in a lottery pool with about a dozen other co-workers for about the last year.

After the group won $9 during a drawing on May 1, the money was used to buy more tickets for another drawing on May 4, the suit said. Some employees kicked in additional money, but Franco and Medina weren’t asked to contribute, according to Erron Fisher, an attorney for the two.

A ticket bought by the group won the grand prize that day, but Franco and Medina are being excluded from the winnings because they did not contribute any additional money, Fisher said.

The 12 employees who intend to share in the prize have not yet come forward to claim the ticket, according to the Illinois Lottery.

The suit said that the group usually collects money every Monday and Thursday for Mega Millions drawings. That week, the money was instead collected on Wednesday, and Franco and Medina were not notified. Fisher argued they were still involved in the pool because of the $9 rolled in from the May 1 drawing, which Franco and Medina had paid toward.

Fisher said all the lottery pool members work for Pita Pan, which makes Greek pitas, pocket bread and flatbread.

The suit, filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court, asked lottery officials to hold off on dispersing the May 4 Mega Millions winnings pending a court ruling on the lawsuit.

Fisher said he believes there are three additional Pita Pan employees with similar claims to his clients who are still seeking legal representation.

Mike Lang, spokesman for the Illinois Lottery, said a group claiming to have the winning May 4 ticket has been in contact with the agency. Lang said these types of disputes happen every couple of years.

If the court sides with the 12 winners, each would split just under about $10 million before taxes. But if as many as 17 people share in the winnings, each would still pocket about $7 million before taxes. However, the amount would drop if the group opted to take a lump sum payment.

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