Sisters Battle in Court Over $500K Lottery Jackpot

Two sisters in their 80s had a special bond, taking regular trips to a Connecticut casino and buying lottery tickets. After one sister won $165,000 and shared most of the money, the siblings drew up a contract, saying they would equally divide all future winnings.

Both women said they adhered to the deal for nearly a decade, but they stopped talking after a fight in 2004 about a small loan, according to The Hartford Courant and The Associated Press.

Things turned ugly the next year when one sister, Rose Bakaysa, and a brother won a $500,000 Powerball jackpot. When younger sister Theresa Sokaitis learned of the win, she wanted a share of the money and took her older sister to court.

The sisters, who reportedly haven’t spoken to each other in five years, saw each other Tuesday in New Britain Superior Court as Sokaitis’ lawsuit went to trial. Sokaitis, 84, says Bakaysa, 87, violated their notarized contract. But Bakaysa says Sokaitis canceled the deal in 2004 during the fight, which was over several hundred dollars.

“She was shouting, ‘I don’t want to be your partner anymore.’ I said, ‘All right, that was it.’ I tore up my contract,” Bakaysa testified.

Acknowledging the fight, Sokaitis said she thought their contract was still valid. “I love my sister. There was no reason not to be partners,” Sokaitis testified Tuesday. She denied saying she wanted to end their deal.

Both sides agree the case has damaged the family. In court, the sisters never seemed to lock eyes, the Courant said, nor did they exchange smiles or waves. And Bakaysa spoke of her sister as “Mrs. Sokaitis.”

“One thing Theresa Sokaitis has maintained throughout is the thing she is most upset about is she has lost the relationship with her sister,” said her lawyer, Samuel Pollack.

While a judge had dismissed Sokaitis’ lawsuit under a Connecticut law that makes gambling contracts illegal, the state Supreme Court said the law didn’t apply because the case involved legal activities and allowed the trial to go forward.

After the one-day trial, Judge Cynthia Swienton said she expects to issue her ruling in the next few months.

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