Man Seeking Half of Montana Millionaire Jackpot

Lawsuit alleges man agreed to split winnings with gas station employee

By Justin Franz

HELENA — An East Helena man has filed a lawsuit seeking half of the Montana Millionaire jackpot, saying he had a verbal agreement with the winner to split the prize.

Michael Hess filed the lawsuit in District Court in Helena and is asking a judge for a restraining order to prevent Jeff Fallang from spending or transferring to others at least $500,000 of the prize money, the Independent Record reported Friday.

The court filing includes an affidavit from a Town Pump employee who said Hess bought a ticket on Dec. 23, then Fallang — who was working at the Town Pump — asked Hess to buy a ticket on his behalf because he couldn’t buy one while on shift. The employee, Sam Allen, said Hess bought a third ticket and the men agreed to split any winnings from the three tickets. Allen said a second employee also witnessed the agreement.

After the second ticket was drawn as the winner on Dec. 30, Hess said he contacted Fallang, who refused to split the prize money, the lawsuit alleges.

Fallang collected $681,000 after taxes when he claimed the winnings on Jan. 2, Montana Lottery officials said.

Fallang’s mother, Pamela, told The Associated Press on Friday that he declined to comment.

Under Montana Lottery administrative rules, a lottery ticket is considered a bearer instrument until signed and the person who signs the ticket is the owner. However, state law does allow the enforcement of some oral contracts.

Hess is seeking the restraining order because Fallang has indicated that he intends to spend some of the money to travel and to buy a house.

“There is thus a significant likelihood that irreparable harm will be done to Plaintiff if half the proceeds are not tied up during the pendency of this litigation,” said the lawsuit filed by attorney John Doubek.

Lottery officials say no one has sued over the ownership of a lottery ticket in Montana in the 27 years of its existence.

The Montana Millionaire game sold 135,000 raffle tickets for $20 each. It awarded the $1 million prize along with two $100,000 prizes, five $10,000 prizes and instant prizes of $500 and $50.

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