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WILLIAM MADARA v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (02/26/79)

decided: February 26, 1979.

WILLIAM MADARA, PLAINTIFF
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEFENDANT



Original jurisdiction in case of William Madara v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

COUNSEL

Stephen Cohen, for plaintiff.

Raymond Kleiman, Deputy Attorney General, with him Gerald Gornish, Acting Attorney General, for defendant.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers, Blatt, DiSalle, Craig and MacPhail. Opinion by Judge Mencer.

Author: Mencer

[ 40 Pa. Commw. Page 582]

William Madara (Madara) purchased a 50-cent Pennsylvania lottery ticket, No. 921746, with a drawing date of June 14, 1972. Thereafter, his wallet containing the ticket and other valuables was mislaid and not recovered until June 16, 1973, at which time the lottery ticket was presented to the Bureau of State Lotteries as a prize claim. On June 22, 1973, the Bureau denied Madara's claim.

[ 40 Pa. Commw. Page 583]

Madara filed a complaint in mandamus to compel Robert Kane, Secretary of Revenue, to honor lottery ticket No. 921746 as a winning ticket and alleged damages in the amount of $1 million. The defendant filed preliminary objections to the complaint in mandamus, a part of which was a demurrer asserting that Madara failed to state a cause of action.

We held, in Madara v. Kane, 13 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 433, 323 A.2d 401 (1974), that Madara's complaint in mandamus had not stated a cause of action and we dismissed his complaint. We stated the question to be whether or not Section 14 of the State Lottery Law,*fn1 72 P.S. ยง 3761-14, places a 1-year time limitation on the presentation of prize claims under the State Lottery Law. We concluded that all claims for prizes must be presented within 1 year after the drawing in which the prize was won.

Madara failed to appeal our decision but waited more than 4 years before filing, in this Court, an action in equity seeking payment from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Commonwealth) because of unjust enrichment. The alleged unjust enrichment consisted of (1) the Commonwealth's retaining $150 in prize money which was untimely claimed by Madara, (2) the Commonwealth's refusal to allow Madara participation in the millionaire drawing, and (3) the Commonwealth's failure to hold the millionaire drawing relative to which Madara held a qualifying ticket.

The Commonwealth filed preliminary objections to the complaint in equity, a part of which was the defense of res judicata.*fn2 "Res judicata" literally means

[ 40 Pa. Commw. Page 584]

"a matter adjudged or a thing judicially acted upon or decided." As we stated in McCarthy v. Township of McCandless, 7 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. ...


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