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Seneca One, LLC v. Geulakos, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-153-15)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   14-P-1106                                       Appeals Court   SENECA ONE, LLC  vs.  PAUL GEULAKOS & another.[1] No. 14-P-1106. Hampden.     June 3, 2015. – October 1, 2015.   Present:  Meade, Hanlon, & Blake, JJ. Lottery.  State Lottery Commission.  Commonwealth, Trustee process.  Practice, Civil, Trustee process.  Governmental Immunity.  Immunity from suit.  Assignment.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on September 27, 2013.   A motion for approval of trustee process attachment was heard by Edward J. McDonough, Jr., J., and a motion for reconsideration was considered by him.     Andrew Martin Batchelor, Assistant Attorney General, for State Lottery Commission. David A. Lavenburg for the plaintiff.      HANLON, J.  The State Lottery Commission (commission) appeals from an order approving an attachment by trustee process of lottery prize proceeds due Paul Geulakos.  The commission argues that an action such as this is barred by G. L. c. 10, § 28(4), which prohibits the assignment of lottery prizes, except under certain very limited circumstances and, also, that the doctrine of sovereign immunity bars trustee process against the Commonwealth.  The commission asks that we reverse the order.  The plaintiff, Seneca One, LLC (Seneca), responds that this action is permitted under G. L. c. 10, § 28(2), which Seneca maintains effectively waives sovereign immunity in a case such as this.  We disagree, and reverse the order. Background.  Seneca is a limited liability company organized in Maryland and registered with the commission to transact business in Massachusetts.  It “is engaged in, among other things, the business of purchasing assignments of lottery prize payments in exchange for a discounted lump-sum payment.”  On April 1, 2009, Geulakos won a $ 1 million lottery prize, payable in twenty $ 50,000 annual installments.  In August, 2011, he executed a demand promissory note to Seneca in the principal amount of $ 40,000 (note), as part of a “Lottery Prize Assignment Agreement” (agreement) between Seneca and Geulakos, ostensibly pursuant to G. L. c. 10, § 28(4).[2]  Under the terms of the agreement, Seneca would pay Geulakos a lump sum of $ 154,722.81 in exchange for the assignment of ten lottery payments, each in the amount of $ 20,202.21, and seven lottery payments in the amount of $ 50,000 each over a period of years, beginning in 2012 and ending in 2028, when the prize money ran out. In January, 2012, Seneca filed a “Petition for Court Order Approving Voluntary Assignment of Lottery […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - October 1, 2015 at 9:40 pm

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