ALHAMBRA (CNS) - A lawsuit filed by a man who maintains he is the winner of the record-breaking November 2022 $2.04 billion Powerball jackpot should be dismissed insofar as the one claim against the state, attorneys for the Attorney General's Office state in new court papers.
State officials have denied Jose Rivera's claim in his Alhambra Superior Court lawsuit against the California State Lottery Commission that he is the lottery winner. The commission maintains that Edwin G. Castro, also a defendant in the Rivera suit, is the proper winner as announced on Feb. 14.
In court papers filed Friday with Judge William A. Crowfoot, the Attorney General's Office argues that Rivera's one claim against the state of declaratory relief and a court determination of the rights and obligations of the parties should be dismissed because of "well-settled law that prohibits the state lottery from paying on a claim for Powerball lottery winnings without a valid ticket and which bars the state lottery from paying a prize twice."
Any theft of a Powerball ticket should be addressed with law enforcement and the alleged thief, not the state lottery, the Attorney General's Office further argues in its court papers.
A hearing on the state's dismissal motion is scheduled March 1. On Dec. 11, the judge is scheduled to hear plaintiff's attorney Estela S. Richeda's motion to withdrew from her representation of Rivera. She cites an "irreconcilable breakdown in the attorney-client relationship" as well as ethical considerations.
In an Oct. 23 letter to Acting Senior Assistant Attorney General Lisa L. Freund, a copy of which is attached to the state's court papers, Richeda says she has requested that Rivera drop his suit, but that he has declined and stands by his claims. In an amended complaint, Rivera says has paid a price for taking his stand.
"The plaintiff has received anonymous death threats for claiming that he is the rightful winner of the ticket and he been forced to leave his work as a gardener because of the risk to the security of his family and himself," the revised complaint states.
Rivera maintains he bought the victorious ticket at Joe's Service Center in Altadena the day before the Nov. 8 drawing, but that it was stolen by someone identified only as "Reggie," a co-defendant in the suit, on the same day. In subsequent court papers, Rivera's lawyers identified "Reggie" as Urachi F. Romero.