Nashville At Law: Lottery sues to recover losses from drawing snag

Monday, October 13, 2008 at 1:00am
The Tennessee Education Lottery filed suit against Smartplay International Inc. and Gaming Laboratories International following a snafu last year that lotto officials say cost $1.45 million.

The moment of reckoning has arrived after last summer's computerized-drawing fiasco at the Tennessee Lottery. At the time, a simple keystroke error in new software used in choosing Cash 3 and Cash 4 winners meant that some $2 million worth of tickets sold in a three-week period were automatically excluded from winning.

The Tennessee Education Lottery Corp. on Oct. 2 sued Smartplay International Inc. and Gaming Laboratories International Inc. in Davidson County Circuit Court. Earlier this year, the Lottery asked technology provider Smartplay and system reviewer Gaming Laboratories to cover the costs it incurred in sorting out the mess. Now it is suing over those costs, which the Lottery pegs at $1.45 million. Plaintiff's attorneys: Aubrey B. Harwell Jr. of and Ronald G. Harris of Neal & Harwell PLC.

Other civil legal cases of note for the week of Oct. 2-9:

Davidson County Circuit Court

• Resource Communications Group LLC v. Healthways Inc. Filed Oct. 6. Disease-management leader Healthways contracted with RCG in 2006 to provide telecommunications services. The lawsuit claims Healthways "unilaterally and improperly gave notice it was terminating the agreement in May 2007."

RCG claims the contract entitles it to 8 percent of everything Healthways now spends each month on telecommunications. It also wants to be made whole for expenses it incurred in performing the work it did do for Healthways.

Plaintiff's attorneys: Harwell and Harris of Neal & Harwell once more, joined by Jonathan H. Wardle.

Davidson County Chancery Court

• Fred Westfield et al. v. Federal Republic of Germany. Filed Oct. 3. A new legal front opens in a remarkable case that seeks to right some of the wrongs of the Holocaust.

Retired Vanderbilt University economics professor Fred Westfield arrived in Nashville in 1940 as a 12-year-old Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany. He made it out with his father and one uncle, but another uncle, Walter Westfeld, failed in his desperate attempts to escape the country.

Walter, who owned a large and famed art collection including works by Rubens and El Greco, was arrested days after Kristallnacht, the night of terror unleashed against Germany's Jews on Nov. 9, 1938. He was eventually murdered at Auschwitz.

The Nazis seized and sold off the art collection after Walter's arrest. In 2004, Fred Westfield learned that one painting, by 17th-century Dutch master Eglon van der Neer, had ended up in the collection of the Boston Museum of Art. With the cooperation of an archivist from the museum, he began researching the fate of the rest of the collection.

In early 2007, he and other relatives of Walter Westfeld asked Nashville's probate court to let them reopen Walter's estate for the purpose of trying to gain some recompense for the loss of the art. They had to reach a settlement with members of a German family who claimed to be Walter's rightful heirs, but the court eventually granted their wishes.

Now Fred Westfield, joined by family members living across the country, is suing Germany. The lawsuit asserts that today's Germany is liable for the actions of Hitler's regime and cannot claim state immunity under the terms of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. It seeks an accounting of the fates of the paintings and tapestries, as well as damages for their loss.

Plaintiff's attorneys: Overton Thompson III of Bass, Berry & Sims PLC and Jeffrey Schoenblum of Vanderbilt University Law School.

• Ameris Health Systems LLC v. Russell County Community Hospital LLC. Filed Oct. 3. Hospital operator Ameris has a management contract with RCCH, located in Montgomery, Ala. It claims the hospital owes $1.15 million and has "failed to negotiate in good faith to arrive at a payment schedule."

Along with the balance due, Ameris seeks pre-judgment interest of 10 percent on the outstanding amount as well as attorneys' fees. Plaintiff's attorney: H. Frederick Humbracht Jr. of Boult Cummings Conners & Berry.

United States District Court

• Melanie Howard Music Inc. v. Warner Bros. Records Inc. Filed Oct. 6. The music publishing company of Melanie Howard, widow of legendary songwriter Harlan Howard, is locked in a dispute with Warner Bros. over the rights to numerous songs by alt-country fave Lori McKenna. The lawsuit accuses the label of infringing the copyrights of the songs, and it seeks an injunction to force Warner to stop selling McKenna's music and pay damages for what it has sold. Plaintiff's attorneys: John A. Day and Kenneth J. Sanney of Day & Blair PC in Brentwood.

• Magotteaux International SA et al v. Fonderie Acciaierie Roiale S.p.A. Filed Oct. 8. A Belgian firm sues an Italian company for infringing a U.S. patent. Magotteaux produces "wear-resistant castings and grinding media" for industrial use. It has a factory in Pulaski. Competitor F.A.R., it claims, is selling products that are covered by one of its patents. It seeks an injunction and treble damages for willful infringement. Plaintiff's attorneys: Three lawyers from the Chicago firm Vedder Price PC, with Wallace W. Dietz and Paige Waldrop Mills of Bass, Berry & Sims as local counsel.

Filed under: City Business
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By: eastnashville37207 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I wouldn't play powerball/lottery or any of their other games in TN as there has always been problems with the whole thing from the begining.

By: 2476 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Computerize drawings can be suspect at each drawing, because everyone knows that a computer is only good as the minds that download what it spews out. I personally think that the system used by powerball is the only system that is credible. You see the balls as they are picked.Go to that system and take the mysteria from what is used now.

By: Idahoser on 12/31/69 at 6:00

You know, there's a reason the lottery is called a "stupidity tax".

By: sidneyames on 12/31/69 at 6:00

You people are funny and right! I play the lottery once a month for $2; I wonder what my retirement port folio would look like if I put that $24 a year into it? Oh, I know. It would look just like it does right now after the big "economic" crisis! Almost empty.