Anyone who’s been playing the lottery or watching the news in Quebec for the last few years may remember a man by the name of Joel Ifergan. In 2009, he almost won a $27 million lottery jackpot, but his ticket was printed 7 seconds too late to be eligible for the drawing. He sued Loto-Quebec back then—to no avail—and has reignited his vengeance with new class action suit aimed at the iniquitous nature of ‘Quick Pick’ lottery sales.
|The original law suit stemmed from a Super 7 lottery ticket that Mr. Ifergan purchased on the evening of May 23, 2008. He entered the convenience store that night to purchase two tickets, and was informed by the clerk that he must be fast because the 9:00pm deadline to purchase tickets for that evening’s drawing was fast approaching.Mr. Ifergan elected to purchase Quick Pick tickets, meaning the machine randomly selects numbers for the player. His tickets were subsequently printed on separate slips. The first was spit out of the machine just before the 9:00pm cut-off, but the second was not printed until 7 seconds after, thus it depicted the next week’s draw date.
And of course, it was the second ticket that ended up being an exact match for that night’s winning lottery numbers. Had the ticket printed prior to 9:00pm, it would have been worth $27 million, which would have been split between Ifergan and another player who won the Super 7 lottery that night.
| Joel Ifergan holding copy of 7-second losing Quick Pick Lottery Ticket
photo courtesy Canadian Press
Mr. Ifergan sued the Crown corporation, Loto-Quebec, claiming that he requested the ticket before the 9:00pm deadline, and that the error was the fault of the retailer and its lottery machine, which claims delayed the printing of his second ticket. He argued that once his order for the tickets was placed prior to 9:00pm, it was the obligation of the retailer to provide them for the date requested.
His original lawsuit, in which he sought $13.5 million—the amount he would have won had the ticket printed sooner—was lost in Quebec Superior Court in 2012. He appealed the case in Quebec Court in 2012, and lost again. Mr. Ifergan tried once more, taking his claims to the Supreme Court of Canada in January 2015, where they refused to even hear the case.
Ifergan Tries Another Angle, Targets Quick Pick System
Now, Ifergan is trying to sue Loto-Quebec once more, but for a different reason. He now claims that the Quick Pick ticket-printing practices of Loto-Quebec are unfair.
Last week, he filed a motion in Quebec Superior Court, asking for permission to file a class-action suit against the province’s lottery corporation. According to Mr. Ifergan, when a person buys a quick pick lottery ticket, the sequence of numbers randomly selected by the lottery machine are then removed from the database, meaning no machine will produce a quick pick ticket with those same numbers for the same week’s drawing, or subsequent drawing for the next few weeks.
The new lawsuit references testimony from Loto-Quebec executive Denis Daly dating back to Mr. Ifergan’s previous court case. Daly stated back then that randomly-generated quick pick numbers are not put back into the system until three or four draws have passed, when the database of eligible numbers is essentially “re-shuffling”.
Mr. Ifergan claims this practice is unfair, because that sequence of numbers could win during the time in which the system refuses to print them out as quick pick tickets. “The way it operates puts us the Quebec consumer at a disadvantage against not only consumers in the rest of Canada, but other Quebec consumers who pick their own numbers,” Ifergan told The Canadian Press.
His attorney, David Bourgoin, said the motion to file class-action is based upon consumer protection laws, and the fact that Loto-Quebec failed to disclose the element of “missing” numbers violates those laws.
“Before [consumers] buy a ticket, [Loto-Quebec] should have to inform people that there’s a chance that they have no chance of winning,” said Bourgoin.