A New Hampshire judge held that a multi-million dollar Powerball winner can keep her name private. The Hillsborough County Judge, Charles Temple, found that revealing a winner’s name goes against privacy rights.
The Court’s Reasoning
The ruling was unsettling since New Hampshire’s Lottery Commission (NHLC) saw it would be forced to reveal the winner’s name. They thought so due to the idea if a request were made under New Hampshire’s open records law. New Hampshire lottery rules require that the winner’s name, town, and amount awarded be made available to the public. Also, The NHLC argued that revealing the woman’s name would serve the public by showing it that the lottery system is overlooked correctly. However, that the winner’s identity was protected from disclosure under the open records law exemption for invasion of privacy.
Part of the judge’s reasoning involved the experiences of past winners. For example, previous winners faced violence, repeated solicitation, and harassment. Judge Temple noted the woman’s law firm had already been contacted with solicitations regarding its client’s winnings. He did, however, rule that the winner’s hometown could be revealed. This was ruled due to thinking would be highly unlikely she could be identified.
The woman, who won $560 million in a Powerball jackpot, claimed in her lawsuit that she followed the direction of the lottery commission. She hired legal representation and learned she could have remained anonymous by creating a trust and signing the winning ticket in the trust’s name. Her lawyers argued that the NCL’s arguments were undercut by the fact that their client could have kept her name secret by creating a trust. The winner’s after-tax payout totaled $264 million, which she has already received.
Giving it Away
According to the Washington Post, the winner’s attorney was instructed to immediately donate part of the winnings to select not-for-profits. A total of $249,000.00 was given to numerous nonprofit groups including Girls, Inc. and three chapters of End 68 Hours of Hunger. The attorney for the winner told reporters that his client plans to give away as much as $50 million in the future.
If you or someone you know has questions about your state’s public records law, your privacy rights, or questions about estate planning, contact a knowledgeable attorney right away.