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Long Beach Man Sues After Underage Son's Winning $5M Scratcher Is Denied

LONG BEACH (— Luck struck for one young man when a lottery scratcher he bought at a gas station was found to be worth a fortune. The problem is, he was a little too young. Now, his father is suing to get the money that's being denied by the state.

Ward Thomas of Long Beach sued the California Lottery Commission this week, after a winning $5 million scratcher his 16-year-old son Benjamin bought at Mobil  gas station on Bellflower Boulevard last year was deemed invalid by the agency.

Thomas' lawsuit accuses the commission of discharge of mandatory duty, breach of contract, negligence, and intentional and negligent representation, claiming no one at the gas station—also a defendant in the suit—told his  son he could not buy the ticket because he was under the age of 18.

Thomas says he sent his son into the station to exchange winning scratchers for new ones last October. One of the five he received in return was the $5 million winner, but the elder Thomas claims he, not his son, was the buyer.

CBS2 legal analyst Steve Meister says the family does not have a strong case. "It's not the state's responsibility to now say, 'OK, because someone let you play, here's you million dollars.'"

The lawsuit does not state how the agency knew his son was the buyer or that he was under the age of 18, but the commission says they investigate every winner to check if they followed the rules, including reviewing security footage of the purchase. Neither the commission nor the station provided a comment on the case.

(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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