A Cumberland County jury had to settle a family feud over a $1 million dollar lottery ticket. One brother said they’d agreed to split any winnings, but the other brother took the money for himself.
“Money is a problem,” said the plaintiff’s attorney R. Mark Thomas, “A lot of money is a big problem.”
But half-brothers Ira Sharp and Charles Meehan didn’t expect to run into much money at all when they started scratching off tickets inside of Johnny Joes Car and Grill in May of 2013.
They certainly didn’t expect to be on opposite sides of a million dollar lawsuit.
“My stomach was churning. I was waiting to hear what they said,” said Thomas of the minutes before the jury returned its verdict in the two-day trial.
In June of 2013, Sharp sued his brother after he found out that Meehan had secretly cashed in the winning lottery ticket that he said they agreed to split.
Neither party disputes that Sharp’s $20 bill was used to buy the winning ticket, but Meehan said there was no agreement. He also testified that after cashing in the ticket at the lottery office, he lied to his brother saying there was a mistake and that they hadn’t won after all.
His brother didn’t believe him and neither did the jury Wednesday.
In ruling in Sharp’s favor, the jury concluded that there was a legitimate oral contract made inside of that Mechanicsburg bar.
“It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy,” said Patrick Andrews, a bartender at Johnny Joes.
Many Sharp supporters were inside the bar and celebrated news of his $500,000 win.
They also know there was no real winner.
“You like to think that blood is thicker than water,” said Andrews, “They are never going to get that back.”
Without physical evidence, the jury depended on nuances. For example, when Meehan was questioned by his own attorney about taxes, instead of saying, “how much I would be paying,” he said, “how much we would be paying.” It was a slip that served to imply to the court that he was aware of the agreement.
Although the IRS has already extracted 25 percent out of the $1 million, Sharp’s attorney said his client will still be awarded $500,000 and will be responsible for takes that are due on his half.