Good Morning America had an interesting interview this morning with Louise Chavez, a Colorado woman who claims she won $42 million from a slot machine jackpot.
“All of a sudden I saw the light come on on top of the machine,” Chavez told “Good Morning America.” “I’m like, ‘Oh, my God! Oh, my God!’ I’d never had this feeling before in my life, never.”
The payout she was expecting? $42,949,673. She said she usually makes about $12,000 per year as an in-home personal care provider.
But champagne and caviar dreams quickly evaporated.
Casino employees told Chavez that the machine had malfunctioned, that the jackpot was WAY too large, and refused to pay the jackpot. Although the linked story doesn’t mention it, Chavez noted this morning that the casino offered her a free overnight stay, a breakfast, and a refund of the money she played in the machine. She refused everything but the breakfast.
Could that breakfast have constituted an accord and satisfaction? ”An accord is a contract under which an obligee promises to accept a stated performance in satisfaction of the obligor’s existing duty. Performance of the accord discharges the original duty.” Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 281(1). In other words, accord and satisfaction would have occurred if the parties agreed that, instead of receiving $42 million, Chavez would receive yummy breakfast.
It sounds crazy, but by eating the breakfast, it seems like the casino could at least argue that Chavez implicitly agreed to an accord and satisfaction. Scarfing down delicious bacon is, after all, an objective act. Such a situation would be analogous to a plaintiff cashing a settlement check: when the plaintiff cashes a check that is meant to be full settlement, the plaintiff cannot turn around and sue. The actual outcome would of course depend on what the casino said to Chavez. If they said, “We want to make you happy, have some breakfast,” Chavez has probably still got a chance at that jackpot. But if they were smart, they said something like, “We can resolve this conflict right now. We’ll give you breakfast, etc. to make everything even, deal?”
The worst part about all this? Chavez said the breakfast “wasn’t even that good.” If you’re going to pay that much for eggs, they better be good eggs.