October 13, 2011 -
An appeals court on Wednesday declined to throw out a complaint by an Ocala woman fighting the Florida Lottery over its refusal to pay a $500,000 prize. The woman, Ann Marie Curcio, got a $20 ticket from her husband as a Mother's Day present in 2007. But when she tried to claim the prize and Lottery officials checked the electronic bar code information that verifies the ticket hasn't been changed, they said the ticket had a misprint. The number 1 printed on the ticket should have been a 13, the Lottery said. Curcio, 58, whose husband has since died, filed suit in Leon County, alleging breach of contract, unfair trade practices and other wrongdoing. The Lottery agency argues it is protected by sovereign immunity and asked the 1st District Court of Appeal to find in its favor, which the court declined to do. The lower court hasn't yet ruled on Curcio's complaint it issued an order in June granting a motion by Curcio for the Lottery to produce some evidence as part of the discovery process. The 1st DCA said Wednesday that it won't grant the Lottery's request to rule in its favor while the matter is still before the trial court. It also addressed the issue on appeal the lower court's ruling for Curcio on discovery, saying that the state's sovereign immunity defense can be ruled on without the discovery on some of Curcio's claims. But the appeals court also said the trial court must rule on the sovereign immunity defense on some of her other claims before it can authorize discovery on the merits of her claims. It also said the discovery she was seeking was overbroad, ordering the trial court to amend its order, narrowing what discovery is allowed.