A lawsuit filed by the Wyoming Lottery Corporation against a Cheyenne man accusing him of disparaging its operations is still improper and does not give sufficient specifics, according to the defendant’s lawyer.
A more detailed civil lawsuit was filed this week in a Cheyenne state court against Edward Atchison, listed by the Wyoming Council on Problem Gambling, a Wyoming Domestic Non-Profit Corporation based out of Beulah, WY, as its executive director.
Created by the Wyoming Legislature in 2013, the company began selling lottery tickets last year. Atchison has sent written appeals to Wyoming newspapers as well as national groups regarding the lottery’s lack of action pertaining to gambling addiction. The company first filed suit against Atchison in February for allegedly using defamatory statements to undermine the relationship between it and national lottery organizations. Atchison’s lawyer, Tim Kingston, called the corporations civil litigation a strategic lawsuit against public participation, or “SLAPP,” which is a legal tactic sometimes employed to discourage public criticism. According to Kingston, suing a citizen raises constitutional issues, considering the corporation is a part of the state government. The lawsuit seeks an injunction against Atchison and has asked for punitive damages, according to the Associated Press.
In October, District Judge Thomas Campbell ruled that the lawsuit could proceed and denied Atchison’s request for dismissal. Judge Campbell allowed the corporation to add a more detailed description regarding its claims and file and amended complaint. While the amended suit includes the lottery’s incurrence of expenses due to having had to defend itself against what the lawsuit characterizes as misstatements by Atchison, it fails to detail those expenses or otherwise quantify damages. In addition, the lawsuit states that Atchison erred in stating that the corporation had not allocated sufficient funds to address problem gambling, or specify what was actually spent.
After the lawsuit was filed, in a March interview, the lawyer representing the Wyoming Lottery Corporation, Cheyenne attorney Matthew D. Kaufman, said the lottery’s action was not a “SLAPP suit.” Kaufman said the lottery must be in good standing with various organizations such as the Multi-State Lottery Association and the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries in order to sell tickets like Powerball and Mega Millions. They contend that by telling these entities that they are not operating in accordance with its statutory mandates, Atchison is sabotaging those efforts.