Arkansas native Sharon Jones will have to give up her $1 million winnings from a lottery ticket she found discarded in the trash at a local convenience store after a judge ruled the original buyer for the ticket was the true winner.
Sharon Duncan originally threw away the winning ticket at a Beebe convenience store when a read-out on a ticket scanner said Sorry. Not a winner.
Jones found the ticket on July 15 in a trash can of discarded lottery tickets and cashed it in, reported the Associated Press.
Jones testified there was not a sign near the trash can that said customers should not take the discarded tickets. She said she has picked discarded lottery tickets from that trash can plenty of times before.
Duncan's attorney, James 'Red' Morgan, argued that she had been mistaken to throw the lottery ticket away and was still owed the winnings.
However store manager Lisa Petriches said in her testimony that she had taped a sign that said Do not take near the trash can. A former store clerk contradicted that statement, saying the sign was only posted after Jones had claimed the winnings.
Jones' attorney, James Simpson said his client should be awarded the winnings because people should not be able to un-abandon items they once discarded.
We'd have garage-sale law all over the place, he said. It became trash when someone threw it away.
The judge in the case disagreed with Simpson's argument.
White County judge Thomas Hughes said Jones never proved that Duncan fully abandoned her right to claim the money.
The $1 million was never found money, Hughes said, according to the Associated Press. He said the evidence was in Duncan's favor, though store security video and lottery records couldn't determine when exactly she bought the ticket.
Petriches originally filed suit against Jones, claiming the winning lottery ticket belonged to her. She said customers had mistaken the bin for a trash can. She claimed customers knew the lottery tickets in the bin belonged to her. She said Jones should not have taken the ticket out of the bin.
Simpson argued that the bin resembled a trash can and therefore Petriches could not claim the contents, reported MyFoxMemphis.
Duncan joined in the lawsuit after she learned she may be eligible to receive the winnings.
The judge ruled Petriches and the store's owner, Louie Dajani, were not entitled to any of the money.
Simpson plans to appeal the ruling on behalf of Jones.