ya gotta play to win...

Dutch court denies suit of woman who claimed emotional damages after losing lottery

The Associated Press
Wednesday, June 20, 2007

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands: A Dutch woman who claimed she suffered emotional damages due to not winning the lottery missed the jackpot in court too.

Amsterdam District Court judges Wednesday rejected the claim of Helene de Gier, who said she was traumatized by not winning the country's National Postcode Lottery, which she didn't enter, while her neighbors did.

In the lottery, postal codes are chosen at random, and people who live there and enter can win prizes ranging from a few euros (dollars) up to millions. Proceeds go to charity.

De Gier lived on a street in the small southern town of Heusden where seven entrants won €13.9 million (US$18.6 million) each on Jan 1, 2006.

Together with her husband, she filed a suit, arguing that the lottery was an invasion of privacy because she could not escape the media attention surrounding the town's selection. Afterward, neighbors allegedly rubbed in their victory, including one who ostentatiously displayed a new Porsche in front of his house.

De Gier said she eventually become obsessed with the loss. She said she was constantly confronted with it when writing her postal address.

The thought of the next lottery draw felt "like a noose around my neck being tightened," she told television program Nova, wiping away tears.

In addition, she said the lottery uses advertisements that amount to "emotional blackmail," because they emphasize the regret people who do not participate will feel when their neighbors win.

"In other lotteries you would never know for sure that if you had only participated you would have won," she said.

Judges were not swayed, saying that was no different in any lottery or game of chance where — after learning the result — observers know that if they had bet on the actual outcome, they would have won.

They conceded that the lottery had caused divisions in Heusden, but said that was "simply a result of living in a small community."

Sometimes "things happen that have unpleasant consequences for someone, but that doesn't automatically mean the one causing them can be held liable," judges said in a summary of their written ruling.

The National Postcode Lottery called the ruling "clear as a bell."

"We hope that Mrs. De Gier will come to appreciate the positive aspects" of the lottery, it said in a statement.

De Gier denied a charge that has repeatedly been leveled at her since she launched her legal action.

"I'm not a sore loser. Absolutely not," she told Nova.

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