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Mom Sues Son Over Lottery Ticket

January 15, 1998

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ For 10 years Phyllis Klingebiel and her son Michael had an agreement: She would give him $20 each month and they would split the cost of 40 lottery tickets.

So when he called her to say ``We won,″ she began dreaming of how she would spend her newfound wealth.

But more than three months have passed and Mrs. Klingebiel hasn’t seen a dime of their $2 million lottery winnings from the Oct. 2 drawing.

And her son says she never will.

He says he and his wife bought the winning ticket outside the agreement with his mother, using numbers that are special to them.

But the Rahway woman isn’t buying it.

Phyllis Klingebiel is suing her son and daughter-in-law, Jillanne Klingebiel, for what she claims is her rightful share of the $2.15 million.

``She agonized over having to do this. She regrets having to do this, but she feels she’s right,″ her attorney, Gary Blaustein of Union Township, told The Star-Ledger of Newark for today’s editions.

In her lawsuit, filed Dec. 17 in Superior Court in Elizabeth, Phyllis Klingebiel said for a decade, she and her son had an oral agreement to split the cost of 40 New Jersey Pick 6 Lotto tickets.

On Oct. 3, around 12:30 a.m., Michael Klingebiel, who lives in Manville, called and excitedly told his mother that they had just won the jackpot, the suit says.

Michael and Jillanne Klingebiel went to Trenton that day to claim the prize, taking home their first of 20 annual checks for $77,220 after taxes.

When asked about the winnings, Michael Klingebiel advised his father that the winning ticket was not one that he and his mother had purchased together and therefore they would not share the prize money, the complaint said.

Ahmed Bulbulia, a professor at the Seton Hall University School of Law in Newark, said courts have upheld oral agreements before and that the case would boil down to whether the court believes there was an agreement.

If Michael Klingebiel says a ticket he purchased on his own was the winner, the burden of proof shifts to him, the professor said.

``He has to show the tickets he purchased with her actually lost. So he would have a difficult time with that,″ Bulbulia said.

Phyllis Klingebiel declined to comment on the suit.

Jillanne Klingebiel said the couple’s attorney, Henry Rzemieniewski of Somerville, advised them not to comment on the suit. Rzemieniewski refused to discuss the case.

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