Advertisement

Man loses bid to claim part of lottery winnings

A Washington Co. Circuit Court jury awards ownership to couple after yearlong legal battle

A Washington Co. Circuit Court jury awards ownership to couple after yearlong legal battle

February 06, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- A Washington County Circuit Court jury awarded ownership of a $1 million lottery ticket to Brian S. and Mary Lee Kendle Wednesday night following a yearlong court battle between the Fairplay couple and one of their neighbors, Frederick S. Cade III.

Cade sued the Kendles on Jan. 25, 2007, claiming that he and Brian Kendle, 38, bought a "Countdown to Millions" lottery ticket at McNamee's Tavern on Dec. 15, 2006, with the agreement that they would split any proceeds.

Following a three-day trial during which 30 witnesses testified, a six-person jury deliberated for less than 30 minutes before returning its verdict.

Washington County Circuit Judge W. Kennedy Boone III on Wednesday dismissed seven counts from Cade's original suit, leaving only one question for the jury - whether or not Cade and Brian Kendle had an agreement to equally share in any lottery proceeds from the ticket purchased at McNamee's.

Advertisement

Maryland Lottery officials paid out $672,500 for the ticket. Boone froze $500,000 of the winnings following a February 2007 preliminary injunction hearing. The money remains frozen until Boone holds a hearing on an issue raised by the Kendles in a counterclaim filed in July 2007 in Washington County Circuit Court.

The judge earlier dismissed two counts in the countersuit claiming Cade's lawsuit was a malicious use of the civil process. On Wednesday, Boone dismissed the third count presented in the countersuit, a claim that Cade intentionally inflicted emotional distress by bringing suit against the Kendles.

A fourth claim brought in the countersuit, that Cade brought the suit in bad faith without substantial justification, still must be settled. After hearing arguments from both sides, the judge may award attorneys' fees and other expenses to the Kendles.

On Wednesday, several witnesses testified for the Kendles.

Maryland Lottery officials testified that Cade never called or wrote to the agency making a claim on the winning ticket.

Two witnesses, both workers at Classic Fuels near McNamee's, had not been subpoenaed for the trial, but became aware they had information that was potentially relevant to the proceedings.

Sharon Huntzberry, who works a day shift at Classic Fuels, called the Kendles and their attorney Tuesday, advising them to speak with Classic Fuels employees, she testified.

On Jan. 3, 2007, the day after the winning ticket was announced, Cade said his friend had won the lottery, Huntzberry testified. When she found out Cade had filed suit against Kendle, she wondered why because everyone assumed the ticket belonged to Kendle because that's what Cade told people, Huntzberry testified.

Maryland State Police troopers testified about an investigation into a hit-and-run accident that Cade reported. Cade alleged in August that he had been run off the road by a red truck, similar to the one Kendle drove. Shortly after the accident, Cade reported damage he saw on the side of Kendle's truck. An investigator testified that the damage to Kendle's truck had not been made while the vehicle was in motion, but had occurred while the truck was parked on the Kendles' property. Red paint chips on the ground below the damage indicated the truck had been scraped at that location, a Maryland State Police trooper testified.

A neighbor who lives near both Cade and the Kendles testified Wednesday about several conversations he had with Cade. Don Anders said he hadn't heard Cade claim half of the lottery winnings until three or four days after the drawing. Over time, Anders said, Cade tried to intimidate him into testifying on Cade's behalf.

At one point in January, Anders called authorities to report an incident during which Cade came onto his property and, after a conversation during which the man tried to get Anders to change his statement, said, "You're done all right," while making a gunlike gesture with his hand and pointing to Anders.

"I felt I was threatened," Anders said.

During his closing arguments, defense attorney Greg Bannon tried to call into question the Kendles' version of events, and specifically reminded the jury of testimony regarding a signed note that Cade gave the Kendles relinquishing any claim to the winnings.

The Kendles had told a Washington County Sheriff's Department deputy in January that the note, which disappeared from their home office, was handwritten, according to testimony. Throughout the trial, the Kendles and other witnesses described the note as typed, Bannon said.

Defense attorney Edward L. Kuczynski said after the verdict was read that he and his clients declined comment on the case until all of the issues with the countersuit are decided.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|