Patel v. Ga. Lottery Corp., A19A0031

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
Writing for the CourtCoomer, Judge.
Citation830 S.E.2d 393,350 Ga.App. 883
Parties PATEL v. GEORGIA LOTTERY CORPORATION.
Decision Date25 June 2019
Docket NumberA19A0031

350 Ga.App. 883
830 S.E.2d 393

PATEL
v.
GEORGIA LOTTERY CORPORATION.

A19A0031

Court of Appeals of Georgia.

June 25, 2019


830 S.E.2d 394

Kelly R. Burke, Ketan Dineshchandra Patel, Warner Robins, Jared Matthew Lina, James Arthur Goldstein, Mark Van Spix, Atlanta, for Appellant.

Christopher Michael Carr, Atlanta, Bernadett Rosszer, for Appellee.

Coomer, Judge.

350 Ga.App. 883

Ramilaben Patel sued the Georgia Lottery Corporation (the "GLC") in the State Court of Fulton County for breach of contract after it denied her claim for a $5,000,000 lottery prize. The GLC filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that venue was improper in state court. The state court denied the GLC’s motion to dismiss but transferred the case to the Superior Court of Fulton County. Patel filed a motion for summary judgment, and the GLC filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds of sovereign immunity. After a hearing, the trial court denied both Patel’s motion for summary judgment and the GLC’s motion to dismiss. The trial court issued a certificate of immediate review for its consolidated order and the GLC timely filed an application for interlocutory review, which we granted. The GLC appealed.1 Patel cross-appeals from the superior court’s order denying summary judgment and from the state court’s order transferring the case to superior court, arguing that the superior court erred in denying her motion for summary judgment on the basis that genuine issues of material fact remain and in denying her claim for statutory interest. She also contends that the state court erred in transferring her case to superior court. For the following reasons, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

1. Summary judgment is proper only "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." OCGA § 9–11–56 (c). "[A]t the summary judgment stage, courts are required to construe the evidence most favorably towards the nonmoving party, who is given the benefit of all reasonable doubts and possible inferences." Smith v. Tenet HealthSystem Spalding, Inc. , 327 Ga. App. 878, 879 (1), 761 S.E.2d 409 (2014) (footnote and punctuation omitted). "And because summary judgment is a matter of law, we review the issue de novo." Norfolk Southern R. Co. v. Zeagler , 293 Ga. 582, 583 (1) (a), 748 S.E.2d 846 (2013) (citation omitted).

350 Ga.App. 884

Viewed in the light most favorable to the GLC, the record shows that on June 28, 2016, Patel went to the GLC’s office in Dalton, Georgia, and presented a winning $5,000,000 ticket. On June 30, 2016, the GLC interviewed Patel, the manager of the Neighborhood Food Mart in Dublin, Georgia, regarding the ticket. The interview was conducted through one of Patel’s English-speaking friends, who was provided by Patel as her English-Gujarati interpreter. In a letter dated August 16, 2016, Joseph J. Kim, Senior Vice-President and General Counsel for the Georgia Lottery Commission, informed Patel that he had directed the GLC’s Prize Validation Department to decline to pay the $5,000,000 lottery ticket which she had submitted on June 28, 2016. The reason given for the denial was that Patel’s "misrepresentations regarding the facts surrounding [her] purchase of the ticket has led us to conclude that [she is] not the actual purchaser of the ticket and that [she is] actually cashing the ticket for an undisclosed third party." The letter explained that "the GLC cannot allow prize applicants to submit winning tickets on behalf of third parties to assist them to unlawfully circumvent setoffs for unpaid taxes, unpaid child support or unpaid obligations

830 S.E.2d 395

for which winnings are reduced pursuant to OCGA 50-27-50 et seq. "

After Patel filed suit for breach of contract, the GLC conducted an investigation of her $5,000,000 prize claim. The investigator in charge of Patel’s claim determined that an unusually high number of Georgia lottery ticket packs were activated at the Neighborhood Food Mart in Dublin on June 12, 2016. Specifically, he determined that during a two-minute period, 34 packs containing a total of 460 lottery tickets were activated in rapid succession, including the pack containing the $5,000,000 winning lottery ticket. The investigator found that throughout the next three days, the tickets from these 34 packs were scanned at lottery terminals in Decatur, Scottsdale, Clarkston, Lilburn, Macon, and Dublin, and that over $6,500 in prizes, each with a value of $600 or less, were cashed. Surveillance video at one of the locations where the tickets were scanned and cashed showed that Patel’s son, who was a part-time employee at the Neighborhood Food Mart, was the person cashing the tickets. Based on his investigation, the investigator determined that Patel’s son obtained the 34 packs of activated lottery tickets, including the $5,000,000 winning ticket. At his deposition, Patel’s son testified that he had never bought a whole pack of tickets at once because he does not have that much money. The GLC contends that Patel’s son took the 34 packs of tickets, worth $10,200, without making the required up-front cash payment required by OCGA § 50-27-10 (2).

Patel contends that the $5,000,000 lottery ticket was purchased by her daughter, who then gave her the ticket as a gift at a birthday

350 Ga.App. 885

celebration dinner the day before the ticket was scratched. Patel’s daughter testified at her deposition that she drove from Brunswick to Dublin on June 12, 2016, with two of her children. When they got to Dublin, she stopped at the Neighborhood Food Mart and bought seven packs of lottery tickets to give to her mother as a gift. Patel’s daughter testified that she paid cash for the purchase, which totaled $2,100 and that she bought the tickets with her own money. Patel’s daughter also testified that she and her mother, father, brother, and two of her children drove from Dublin to Atlanta on June 13, 2016, and that on the way to Atlanta, she gave Patel five packs of lottery tickets. When they got to Atlanta, they went to a restaurant to celebrate Patel’s birthday. At the restaurant, Patel’s daughter gave her two more packs of lottery tickets.

As the evidence outlined above demonstrates, fact questions remain regarding who obtained the lottery ticket at issue, whether it was paid for at the time it was obtained, and whether Patel is the lawful holder of the lottery ticket. Consequently, the trial court did not err in denying Patel’s motion for summary judgment.

2. Patel contends that the trial court erred in denying her claim for statutory interest. We agree.

In her complaint, Patel alleged that "[b]y denying [her] claim and refusing to pay the $5,000,000.00 prize, Defendant GLC has breached its contractual obligations" and that she had "suffered damages proximately caused by Defendant GLC’s breach of the agreement in the amount of $5,000,000.00, plus interest accrued from the date of Defendant GLC’s initial refusal to honor the terms of the winning ticket." Also in her...

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4 practice notes
  • Small v. Chatham Cnty., A21A0360
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • July 1, 2021
    ...Constitution ... waives sovereign immunity in breach of contract claims based upon written contracts." Patel v. Georgia Lottery Corp. , 350 Ga. App. 883, 886 (2), 830 S.E.2d 393 (2019). Small's complaint expressly alleged that the Probate Court of Chatham County entered into a contract with......
  • Small v. Chatham Cnty., A21A0360
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • July 1, 2021
    ...Constitution ... waives sovereign immunity in breach of contract claims based upon written contracts." Patel v. Georgia Lottery Corp. , 350 Ga. App. 883, 886 (2), 830 S.E.2d 393 (2019). Small's complaint expressly alleged that the Probate Court of Chatham County entered into a contract with......
  • Ga. Lottery Corp. v. Patel, A19A2278
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • November 22, 2019
    ...denied GLC’s petition for certiorari in that case on November 4, 2019, Case No. S19C1018. Additionally, in Patel v. Ga. Lottery Corp. , 350 Ga. App. 883, 830 S.E.2d 393 (2019) (physical precedent only), we reversed the trial court’s denial of Ramilaben’s motion for summary judgment on her c......
  • Small v. Chatham Cnty., A21A0360
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • July 1, 2021
    ...Constitution . . . waives sovereign immunity in breach of contract claims based upon written contracts." Patel v. Georgia Lottery Corp., 350 Ga. App. 883, 886 (2) (830 SE2d 393) (2019). Small's complaint expressly alleged that the Probate Court of Chatham County entered into a contract with......
4 cases
  • Small v. Chatham Cnty., A21A0360
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • July 1, 2021
    ...Constitution ... waives sovereign immunity in breach of contract claims based upon written contracts." Patel v. Georgia Lottery Corp. , 350 Ga. App. 883, 886 (2), 830 S.E.2d 393 (2019). Small's complaint expressly alleged that the Probate Court of Chatham County entered into a contract with......
  • Small v. Chatham Cnty., A21A0360
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • July 1, 2021
    ...Constitution ... waives sovereign immunity in breach of contract claims based upon written contracts." Patel v. Georgia Lottery Corp. , 350 Ga. App. 883, 886 (2), 830 S.E.2d 393 (2019). Small's complaint expressly alleged that the Probate Court of Chatham County entered into a contract with......
  • Ga. Lottery Corp. v. Patel, A19A2278
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • November 22, 2019
    ...denied GLC’s petition for certiorari in that case on November 4, 2019, Case No. S19C1018. Additionally, in Patel v. Ga. Lottery Corp. , 350 Ga. App. 883, 830 S.E.2d 393 (2019) (physical precedent only), we reversed the trial court’s denial of Ramilaben’s motion for summary judgment on her c......
  • Small v. Chatham Cnty., A21A0360
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • July 1, 2021
    ...Constitution . . . waives sovereign immunity in breach of contract claims based upon written contracts." Patel v. Georgia Lottery Corp., 350 Ga. App. 883, 886 (2) (830 SE2d 393) (2019). Small's complaint expressly alleged that the Probate Court of Chatham County entered into a contract with......

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