PORT HAWKESBURY – The Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruled in favour of the application to freeze Tyrone MacInnis' access to Chase the Ace prize money on Monday, August 27.
The decision is part of a legal battle launched by Barbara Reddick, the defendant's aunt, disputing MacInnis' claim to half of the Margaree Volunteer Fire Department's Chase the Ace jackpot of $1.2 million drawn in July.
Both names, Reddick's and MacInnis', were written on the winning ticket and the plaintiff agrees in a statement of facts, that she told the defendant to put his name on the ticket. But she says that was not to share any prize money, only to serve as a sort of good luck charm. The dispute focuses on the lack of an agreement or understanding of what would happen if a prize was won.
Adam Rodgers, of the firm Boudrot Rodgers, represents Reddick and said of the decision on Monday, “We were pleased to see that the judge agreed with our position on that. This is an order that will be in place temporarily until we sort out who is really entitled to this money. It takes the risk out of the situation and I think it was the right thing to do.”
Speaking to his client’s reaction to the court's decision Rodgers said, “She was pleased with the decision as well. She would really like for this to be over. It has been a stressful situation for her. Anytime the matter comes before court or is in the media, it is stressful for her. She was pleased that this order is in place. I think it will help resolve things more expeditiously.”
As for the merits of the case, the judge, in his decision to grant the order of preservation of funds as requested by the plaintiff, said that there was a serious issue to be tried and commented that he accepted the evidence that Reddick had paid for the entire group of tickets, including the winning ticket, on her own. “The court accepted that there was a prima facie case,” said Rodgers.
The court, in granting the preservation order, also accepted that irreparable harm could be done if the injunction wasn't granted. The funds currently held by MacInnis were frozen to ensure they could be recovered if the plaintiff’s claim was upheld by the court.
The judge, after delivering his decision, offered the parties a chance to do a judicial settlement conference. This is often done in civil claims. “It gives the parties an opportunity to sit with the judge. It's not public or on the record. It's an informal discussion with a view to settling the claim,” said Rodgers, noting that the conference will take place on September 17 in Port Hawkesbury.
“Both parties agreed to it which was significant in itself because it showed a willingness on both sides to work towards a comprise,” said Rodgers. If discussions are successful during the settlement conference, an order will be issued ending the claim and if not, the case will continue to a hearing in the next few months.
Rodgers says he is hopeful that the upcoming court date on September 17 will prove a productive use of time.