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High court won’t hear case of Quebecer who missed lottery jackpot by 7 seconds

MONTREAL — A lot can happen in seven seconds. Just ask the Quebec man who says that brief period cost him $13.5 million.

Joel Ifergan bought two lottery tickets in May 2008 — but the one with the eventual winning combination popped out of the terminal seven seconds after the 9 p.m. deadline.

As Ifergan discovered the next day, his Super 7 ticket had all the right numbers but was actually dated for the following week.

A delay with Loto-Quebec’s computer system caused a lag in the issuing of the ticket for that night’s $27-million jackpot, which was ultimately awarded to another person.

Ifergan argued the delay cost him and that he should be entitled to one-half of the windfall — but the Supreme Court disagreed.

On Thursday, the country’s highest court ruled it wouldn’t hear his case against Loto-Quebec, effectively ending Ifergan’s $100,000 legal battle. He’d already lost in Quebec Superior Court in 2012 and in the Quebec Court of Appeal in 2014.

“My crusade is up, I’ve done all I can, I spent enough money going to the Supreme Court,” Ifergan said in a telephone interview.

“If they decide that the Crown corporations are above contract laws and the Consumer Protection Act, well then good luck to us. I’m extremely disappointed but I think what’s more important is the Canadian people should be worried.”

As the 9 p.m. deadline loomed, Ifergan made the purchase: the first ticket came in before the deadline but the ticket with the fateful numbers burped out seven seconds after the cutoff.

Ifergan alleged the transaction was concluded on time and that both tickets were in the system at 8:59:47. What cost him, he says, is the 10 seconds it takes for a ticket to emerge.

“The contract was crystallized at 8:59 p.m.,” he said. “How they process their thing, that’s their problem, not me, and I end up being penalized.”

Ifergan says the Quebec lottery board works differently from its provincial counterparts.

“In the rest of Canada, they shut down at 9 p.m. and you can’t buy a ticket,” he said. “But everything in their system prior to 9 p.m. gets processed and you get a ticket, even if it comes out five minutes later.”

Ifergan was out for ice cream and made a split-second decision that evening to buy a few Quick Pick tickets at a local convenience store.

The owner informed Ifergan the second ticket was for the following week and asked if he wanted to keep it. He replied in the affirmative.

Asked on Thursday why he waited until the last minute, he replied: ”I’m entitled to.”

”Football games are won with the last-second field goal, basketball games are won with a desperation shot,” he said.

Ifergan still plays the lottery.

“It’s a voluntary tax,” he noted. “If we don’t play it, they’ll find another way.”

A Loto-Quebec spokesman said the corporation is pleased with the high court’s decision.

– Follow (at)sidhartha_b on Twitter.

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