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Clock ticks toward deadline to resolve Lottery lawsuit

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

An Aug. 31 deadline looms for the House of Representatives and Florida Lottery to turn in a “status report” on their efforts to settle a lawsuit over a $700 million contract for new equipment.

House spokesman Fred Piccolo on Friday said there had been no resolution, and that “negotiations continue.” Barry Richard, outside counsel for the Lottery, only said the case was still on hold.

The 1st District Court of Appeal last month agreed to suspend the case while the sides work out their differences. “If the case has not been dismissed” by then, the parties have to report by the end of the month whether they see a “need for any further proceedings,” a docket order says.

In March, Tallahassee-based Circuit Judge Karen Gievers invalidated the Lottery’s 15-year deal with IGT (International Game Technology) for new equipment for draw and scratch-off tickets. It also provides for in-store signage, self-service ticket checkers and upgraded security in the communications network.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran had sued, essentially saying the agency went on an illegal spending spree when it inked the contract last year.

Gievers agreed with House general counsel Adam Tanenbaum, who had said the agreement broke state law by going “beyond (the Lottery’s) existing budget limitations.”

Because then-Lottery Secretary Tom Delacenserie “lacked the legal authority to enter into the IGT contract, (it) must, therefore, be found to be void and unenforceable,” Gievers wrote.

Delacenserie later left to head the Kentucky Lottery, and the department is now led by former Department of Economic Opportunity chief of staff Jim Poppell. Meantime, the Lottery appealed.

Gievers had faulted the agency for, among other things, not first seeking the Legislature’s permission to enter into a deal that committed the state to as much as two decades’ worth of funding.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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