The lawyer for a man who claims he was shut-out of a $40 million Powerball jackpot has told a court the winning syndicate was operating "business as usual" and it was "unfair" and "unjust" for him to be blocked from the massive windfall.
A production manager at the Prysmian Group in southwest Sydney, Brendan King, has taken legal action against co-worker Robert Adams, claiming he had been shut-out of the syndicate and was entitled to a 15th of the winnings from May.
Lachlan Gyles SC said the court had an opportunity to "right a wrong" for Mr King to join the "lucky 14" who had won money "beyond their wildest dreams".
The syndicate members had been contributing money for many years and were considered "hard core" loyal members, Mr Gyles told the Supreme Court in Sydney on Monday morning.
In his opening statement to Justice John Sackar, Mr Gyles said the syndicate members had been waiting patiently "for their ship to come in".
He told the court it was assumed unless the members said they were leaving the syndicate they were considered to be included, and if members were behind on their payments would still be entitled to any winnings.
If the ticket wasn't successful, they would still be expected to pay.
There was no significant difference between the draw on May 4 that won the $40 million prize and other draws the workers had contributed to, Mr Gyles said.
"It was business as usual."
However, Mr Adams believed he had formed a one-off syndicate of the core group - minus Mr King - to buy more tickets into the draw, the court heard.
He claimed he did not have the chance to contact Mr King to include him in the winning entry.
My Gyles said the winners had tried to put a "ring fence" around the syndicate, claiming members needed to pay upfront in order to protect their own share of the windfall.
This is something they had never had to do before.
Mr Gyles said syndicates were common place in businesses around Australia where workers were united by a common hope for financial rewards. The reason they stayed in the syndicate each week was to avoid the "nightmare" of stopping contributing and then the jackpot being struck.
He said the exclusion of Mr King was a breach of the "basic obligations" other syndicate members had towards him.
The court has previously heard the winning ticket was purchased by a syndicate separate to Mr King and the particular syndicate Mr King was part of had been dissolved.
The barrister for Mr Adams, Michael Lee SC, asked about a conversation the two men had in January and what he understood it meant.
"Immediately following this conversation on January 11 ... What was described as the core syndicate was finished?"
Mr King said that was correct, and confirmed that was, at that time, the only syndicate in place.
The reason Mr Adams gave for the winding up of the syndicate was due to the difficulty in getting money from members, Mr King said.
Under cross-examination by Mr Lee, Mr King insisted he had told Mr Adams he wanted to be part of the Mother's Day draw. He denied a suggestion by the lawyer there were occasional one-off syndicates for big draws.
The hearing is expected to last three days.
The Powerball winnings have already been paid to the 14 winners, less $2.69 million which has been set aside pending the outcome of the hearing.