Illegality Bars Claims Related to VFW’s Electronic Bingo Operation

Whaley and Lovvorn v. Dept. of Alabama VFW, [Ms. SC-2022-0850, Aug. 18, 2023] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2023). The Court (Sellers, J.; Parker, C.J., and Wise, Stewart, and Cook, JJ., concur) reverses the Montgomery Circuit Court’s judgment on a jury verdict awarding $1,782,368.88 in compensatory damages and $2,000,000 in punitive damages to Department of Alabama Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (“the VFW”) on its claims of breach of contract, fraudulent suppression, and conversion against Travis E. Whaley and Randall C. Lovvorn who had contracted with the VFW to superintend and promote its electronic-bingo operation.

The Court reiterates that “[e]lectronic bingo is illegal in Alabama.” and that “‘[a] person cannot maintain a cause of action if, in order to establish it, he must rely in whole or part on an illegal or immoral act or transaction to which he is a party.’ Oden v. Pepsi Cola Bottling Co. of Decatur, Inc., 621 So. 2d 953, 954-55 (Ala. 1993) (quoting Hinkle v. Railway Express Agency, 242 Ala. 374, 378, 6 So. 2d 417, 421 (1942)).” Ms. *5 (some internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

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