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Octogenarian Sisters Square Off Over Question Ripe for Contracts 101

Powerball I've been keeping an eye on the Law and Magic blog (because, well, it's a blog about law and magic!), and learned in this post about the crazy story of two octogenarian sisters from Connecticut who squared off against each other yesterday in New Britain Superior Court. Here are the facts as reported by the Associated Press, which will surely appear as a question in a law school Contracts 101 exam sometime soon.

Rose Bakaysa and her younger sister Theresa Sokaitis were two of nine siblings, and had always shared a special bond. As they hit their 70s and 80s, a big part of their connection centered around their dream of "jackpot riches." They shared lottery ticket purchases and went to casinos together. For years, however, lady luck avoided these gals.

Then, in 1995, Sokaitis won $165,000 playing poker at Foxwoods casino while her sister was on the slots nearby. Sokaitis testified this week that she intended to split it evenly with Bakaysa and ultimately gave her about $64,000. This big haul led the sisters to draft a written, notarized contract in which they agreed to split all future winnings equally between them.

Nine years later, in 2004, the sisters had an argument over a loan of a couple hundred dollars. "I don't want to be your partner anymore!" Sokaitis shouted. Bakaysa tore up her copy of the contract.

All of this was a prelude to 2005, when Bakaysa and her brother Tony won a $500,000 Powerball jackpot. Bakaysa gave $10,000 of her share to Sokaitis' daughter, after which Sokaitis called her sister to say that she, too, deserved a share of the money. Sokaitis testified that she said, "I have a contract," but Bakaysa replied that she had torn up her own copy and Sokaitis would not "get a dime." Sokaitis' lawsuit followed.

As if the facts above weren't great enough for a contracts exam question, the case is further complicated by the fact that (a) brother Troy, not Bakaysa, bought the winning ticket, and (b) Connecticut law makes gambling contracts illegal (which led the lower court to dismiss Sokaitis' lawsuit seeking her share). The Connecticut Supreme Court subsequently ruled that the sisters' agreement wasn't covered by that law because it involved legal activities, and said the case could proceed to trial. The AP reports that a ruling is expected in the next few months.

In short, this case has just about everything. But I do have one question for the Law & Magic blog: Where's the "magic?"

Posted by Bruce Carton on March 24, 2010 at 12:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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