Lottery Winner Sues Texas for Privacy

AUSTIN (CN) – A Texas lottery winner sued the state to keep his identity private, for the privacy and safety of his family. After the Lottery Commission claimed that it had received a freedom of information request about the winner, Attorney General Greg Abbott ruled that information about John Doe should be released without redactions.

     State lotteries customarily use information about winners, including photos, to advertise the gambling games.
     In his complaint in Travis County Court, Doe says the Lottery Commission asked him for “a written statement describing his purchase of the winning ticket and the events that transpired prior to its presentation to the Lottery Commission for verification.”
     After Doe provided the statement, the Commission claimed it received a FOIA request. Abbott’s office replied by “requiring release of the statement without redactions necessary to protect plaintiff and his family,” a ruling that Doe contests.
     Doe says his statement to the Commission “should be withheld in order to protect the common law and constitutional rights to privacy of plaintiff and his family.”
     Doe says he wants to put the money into a trust such as “traditionally … has protected the identity and privacy of lottery winners in Texas.”
     The complaint adds: “(T)he Open Records Division has reached an opposite result without even mentioning any of its prior rulings in it letter ruling. Plaintiff had legitimate concern for the safety and well-being of his family should it become publicly known that they have suddenly come into a very large sum of money. He took the steps necessary to protect his family, as have many lottery winners in the past. Without explanation, the Open Records Division denied plaintiff the same protection numerous lottery winners have been afforded without exception.”
     Doe wants the entire statement he provided to the Lottery Commission protected, or barring that, identifying information about him and his family redacted.
He is represented by Robert Johnson III.

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