BECKLEY -- Jack Whittaker, who won a then-record $314 million Powerball lottery jackpot in 2002, has been sued for failing to pay a $10,000 reward for a lost ring.
Chris Smith of Shady Spring filed his complaint April 25 against Whittaker and his wife Christina in Raleigh Circuit Court.
In October, according to Smith's complaint, the Whittakers ran an advertisement in the Beckley Register-Herald offering a $10,000 reward for the return of a ring.
Shortly after the ad ran, Smith says he recovered and returned the ring that had been stolen by a third party on Sept. 16.
Smith says the Whittakers hired him to perform private investigative services at an hourly rate plus expenses. He says they also paid him a $1,000 retainer and agreed to pay the reward if the ring was returned minus any monies they already had paid him.
On Oct. 8, Smith says he met with the Whittakers to tell them he was going to meet with a woman named Christine Duncan and pay her $1,000 for the ring. He did that and expected to return the ring to the Whittakers for the $10,000 reward.
"Upon the return of the ring ... defendants paid the plaintiff $500 for services rendered and have failed to pay the remaining $8,500," the complaint states.
Smith requested the outstanding balance in a certified letter on March 10, but he says the Whittakers have not responded.
Smith claims the Whittakers breached their employment contract with him and breached their reward offer. He seeks the outstanding balance of $8,500 plus attorney fees, court costs, pre- and post-judgment interest and other relief.
On Christmas 2002, Whittaker won the then-record $314 million Powerball drawing. He elected to take the cash option of $170.5 million cash, which resulted in a $113 million check after taxes.
Legal troubles began soon after that. In 2003, thieves broke into his car at a strip club in Cross Lanes and took a suitcase that held $545,000. In 2004, thieves again broke into his car and took about $200,000. But that was recovered.
He later was sued by Caesars in Atlantic City for bouncing $1.5 million worth of checks. He countersued, claiming he was supposed to have been credited due to a slot machine he developed.
In 2007, Whittaker claimed thieves had taken all of his money from 12 branches of City National Bank. He made that claim after failing to make payments to a woman who had sued him.
Several of Whittaker's businesses also have been sued over the years.
Smith is being represented by Beckley attorney Michael E. Froble of Froble Law Office. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Robert A. Burnside.
Raleigh Circuit Court case number 14-C-424