Man says he was told wrong Powerball cutoff time, files $700 million lawsuit
A Charleston man has filed a lawsuit seeking $700 million over allegations he was told the incorrect cutoff time to play the Powerball lottery in 2017 at a Texas convenience store.
Eric Vondrake filed his complaint in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia against 7-Eleven Inc., Multi-State Lottery Association, Mavis L. Wanczyk, the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission, Southwest Convenience Stores, Rahkee P. Sharma, Pawan R. Sharma and the Texas Lottery Commission alleging negligence, negligent misrepresentation and other counts.
According to the complaint, on Aug. 23, 2017, Vondrake visited a 7-Eleven convenience store in Carrollton, Texas, owned by the Sharmas. He asked a clerk what the cutoff time was to play the Powerball lottery game. He alleges he was told the incorrect time and was unable to play. Wanczyk, a Massachusetts resident, won the $700 million jackpot for that drawing.
Vondrake says he was told the cutoff time to play Powerball was 9:30 p.m. Central time, and he bought his ticket at 9:15 p.m. Central time. The cutoff time actually is 9 p.m. Central time.
“This case is not about picking winning numbers but the focus of this case is about the fact that the plaintiff as a citizen has the right to play the Powerball like any other citizen, but those rights were taken away from him by the defendants’ negligence, customs and policies,” Vondrake says in his complaint. “Moreover, the majority of the lawyers that the plaintiff conferred with were only interested in how many numbers that the plaintiff successfully picked.
“This two dimensional thinking was a problem for the plaintiff. When faced with the jury, the plaintiff plans to argue that if he failed to pick any of the correct numbers that it would not matter in this case, because the focus is not numbers but restriction of rights. Rosa Parks’ case wasn’t about a seat on a bus, but her right as a citizen of the United States.”
The next day, Vondrake, who says he lived in Texas at the time of the incident, says he went back to the 7-Eleven and spoke to store manager, who he believes was Rakhee Sharma, about the incident.
“I am sorry about that, the employee gave you the wrong time,” Rakhee Sharma told him, according to the complaint. Sharma also said the employee was new and didn’t know lottery rules before offering Vondrake a free cup of coffee “after her employee caused the plaintiff to lose millions.”
Vondrake says he wrote letters to Sharma, 7-Eleven and the Texas Lottery Commission about the incident, and he all claims the unknown 7-Eleven worker was an illegal alien.
“Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents targeted dozens of 7-Eleven stores in 2017, arresting 21 people in a nationwide immigration sweep,” the complaint states. “The state of Texas was part of the ICE round-up and raids. There is little doubt in the plaintiff’s mind that the employee of the 7-Eleven store in question would have been also a target of this federal raid. And after my complaint to 7-Eleven the unknown employee vanished.”
Vondrake also notes that the Powerball game playslips do not include a cutoff time to play for consumers.
“Consumers are baited by the amount of money offered to play these lottery games, just as the plaintiff was baited,” the complaint states. “But the plaintiff was not provided that critical information of knowing the Powerball lottery cutoff time to play the game or when the Powerball closes.”
Vondrake requests a trial by jury and seeks special damages in the amount of $700 million, general damages, punitive damages, court costs, attorney fees, incidental damages, trebled damages, pre-judgment interest, injunctive and declaratory relief. He says if his alternative for compensation is not acceptable as pled, he will sue the defendants for $2.8 billion, which is four times the amount of the Powerball prize won by Wanczyk.
Vondrake is representing himself. However, four days after filing his complaint, he filed a motion to dismiss without prejudice because he was involved in a collision with a semi-truck.
“The emergency room doctor and two medical specialists have concluded that the plaintiff sustained a concussion and or traumatic brain injury,” Vondrake says in his motion, which was granted two days after being filed.
Vondrake did not respond to messages seeking further information about the case.