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Smith v. Williams

January 19, 1983

MARION SMITH, APPELLANT/CROSS-APPELLEE LAURETTE ROACH, AS PARENT AND GUARDIAN OF KEITH MORGAN, APPELLEE
v.
GLENWOOD & EVELYN WILLIAMS, APPELLEES/CROSS-APPELLANTS GOVERNMENT OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS, APPELLANT



APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS.

Seitz, Chief Judge, Adams and Weis, Circuit Judges.

Author: Seitz

Opinion OF THE COURT

SEITZ, Chief Judge:

I.

This controversy arises out of an illegal raffle conducted by Marion Smith and Evelyn Williams [Evelyn]. As winner of that raffle, Keith Morgan received four sheets of official Virgin Islands lottery tickets. The dispute centers on title to ticket 13540, which won the grand prize of $100,000 in the official Virgin Islands lottery. Smith, Evelyn, Glenwood Williams [Glenwood], and the Government of the Virgin Islands appeal from the district court's summary judgment in favor of Laurette Roach on behalf of her minor son Keith Morgan. This court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 (1964).

II.

The following facts are undisputed. Smith and Evelyn agreed to conduct a raffle to raise money for a personal trip. Virgin Islands law prohibits the operation of a raffle other than the official lottery of the Virgin Islands or one operated by permit. V.I. Code Ann. tit. 14 § 1222 (1964). Smith and Evelyn conducted their raffle without a permit and in violation of § 1222.

The price of a ticket in the Smith/Williams raffle was $1. The prize was four sheets of tickets in the official Virgin Islands lottery. Each sheet contained twenty identically numbered official lottery tickets, and each ticket could be sold separately for $1, providing the holder with a chance to win one twentieth of the grand prize. The tickets could also be sold in sheets of 20, and each sheet had a retail value of $20. Smith and Evelyn each agreed to contribute two sheets to the prize pool.

Around 5:00 pm on April 7, 1981, Evelyn went to Smith's house to collect the two sheets of tickets that Smith had agreed to contribute. Before Smith gave her two sheets to Evelyn, she insisted that they compare the ending numbers of the tickets on the four sheets. The tickets on Evelyn's sheets ended in 8 and 4. The tickets on Smith's sheets ended in 5 and 0. Only after Smith determined that there was no duplication in the ending numbers did she give Evelyn her two sheets. Both Smith and Evelyn wrote down the numbers of the tickets on the four sheets. It is undisputed that Smith contributed ticket 13540.

Evelyn took Smith's two sheets home and put them on top of her dresser with the two sheets that she had contributed. Evelyn's husband, Glenwood was in the same room sorting his official lottery tickets. When he saw the sheet containing ticket 13540, he took it and substituted another sheet in its place.

Shortly after 6:00 pm that same evening, Evelyn took four sheets of tickets from the dresser, put them in an envelope, and sealed it. She then left the envelope at home and went to the bakery where she conducted the raffle around 6:30 pm. Keith Morgan's name was drawn as winner, and that night Evelyn notified Laurette Roach that her son had won. Evelyn instructed Roach to pick up the tickets at the bakery the next day. This Roach did. Ticket 13540, of course, was not among the tickets in the envelope.

The results of the official Virgin Islands lottery were announced on April 9, 1981. Ticket 13540 won the grand prize of $100,000. As soon as the results of the official lottery were announced, Smith called Evelyn to tell her that one of the tickets that she, Smith, had contributed to the prize pool had won the official grand prize.

Smith soon learned from the Williams that Glenwood, and not Morgan, held the winning ticket. Soon after Smith learned this, she brought this action against Evelyn and Glenwood, joining Morgan as co-plaintiff and the Government of the ...


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