Here's how to make sure your co-workers don't sue you if your office pool wins the Powerball

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The U.S. Powerball lottery is now up to $1.5 billion, and the next drawing is tonight.

If you're a working stiff, there's a decent chance you've bought tickets through your coworkers instead of going out and buying a ticket yourself. But one lawyer says you may be in for a surprise if anyone in the group wins.


"[Office pool] lawsuits have happened in every state," Atlanta attorney Stephen Katz told WSB-TV. "We now have 44 states that participate in Powerball, and in the major states, these lawsuits are a dime a dozen."

Such lawsuits have sprung up in recent years among Chicago bakers, Ohio cabinet makers, and New Jersey construction workers. In perhaps the most troubling group lotto case (which technically took place outside an office) two elderly sisters in Connecticut had their dispute go to trial after one won. A judge ruled Rose Bakaysa, 87, could keep her $500,000 winnings and did not have to share with her sister, Theresa Sokaitis, 84.


"I told her I felt I deserved a share of the money and she told me I wasn't going to get a dime," Sokaitis testified.

Katz advised having everyone in the pool sign a pre-arranged agreement about payouts, making copies and sending out e-mails, so no one ends up feeling left out.

"That's essentially where the wheels come off," he said. "Somebody doesn't show up to work that day, and they say, 'I would have paid for the ticket. I was always in the pool, just because I was sick doesn't mean I can't participate.  Here's my two bucks, now give me my 4 million!'"

Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.