Valentin v. El Diario La Prensa

427 N.Y.S.2d 185 (1980)

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Valentin v. El Diario La Prensa

New York City Civil Court
427 N.Y.S.2d 185 (1980)

Facts

El Diaro La Prensa (defendant), a newspaper that primarily serviced the Hispanic community in New York City, ran a contest to determine the King of the Infants, or Rey Infantil. Individuals who purchased the newspaper, which was available at newsstands for 25 cents, would receive a coupon in each edition entitling them to cast 25 votes for their favorite infant. Individuals could also go to the newspaper’s offices and purchase individual pages of the newspaper containing the coupon for 17 cents each. A large number of individuals purchased single pages containing the coupon in an effort to have their favorite infant win. The evening the contest closed, Juana Valentin (plaintiff) went to the newspaper’s offices and paid $1,000 for single newspaper sheets containing the coupons, all of which she used to cast votes for her son. The next day, Valentin came back to the office and demanded that the $1,000 be returned, but her request was refused. Valentin then filed an action in New York City Civil Court for the $1,000. Subsequently, Valentin’s son won the $500 runner-up prize, although the newspaper allegedly withheld the money. The newspaper argued that the contest was not an illegal lottery, because there was no element of chance—it was simply a voting contest.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Blatt, J.)

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