FORT LAUDERDALE (Florida Record) — A Texas man is suing a Fort Lauderdale marine service company and one of its owners for allegedly failing to fix up a used yacht, despite months of work last year and more than a half-million dollars paid for the never-completed work.
Richard Drucker, filed suit against RL Marine, Inc., and Riann Lee, a Hollywood, Florida, resident who owns RL Marine with his wife, Elaina Lee, over refurbishment of his yacht, the "Vitamin Sea." Drucker says the work was never completed, despite about nine months of work last year. Elaina Lee is not an defendant in the case.
"Although the plaintiff’s investigation is ongoing, it appears that RL Marine grossly overcharged and inflated invoices to the point where the plaintiff paid at least $100,000 to $200,000 in unwarranted costs and fees," said the 15-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court for Florida's Southern District, Fort Lauderdale Division. "The plaintiff has now been forced to hire new contractors to remediate the poor workmanship of RL Marine and to complete the Vitamin Sea."
The lawsuit alleges fraud in the inducement, negligent misrepresentation, negligence, breach of contract and unjust enrichment. Drucker seeks a jury trial, judgment against RL Marine for compensatory damages and all other relief the court deems just and proper.
In March 2017, Drucker purchased the 70-foot Azimut motor yacht that had been built in 2011 and, at the time of purchase, required certain work to ensure the vessel was in a complete seaworthy condition, the lawsuit said.
Drucker's marine insurance broker recommended Lee and RL Marine to do the work.
Lee assured Drucker he "would save tens of thousands of dollars by putting the Vitamin Sea in RL Marine's care as Lee would ensure substantial discounts from subcontractors and timely completion of the project within any time frame set by the plaintiff," the lawsuit said.
Over the following six months, RL Marine issued more than 100 invoices to Drucker, which Drucker "promptly paid without question or delay," amounting to more than $500,000 by Sept. 1, "yet completion of the project seemed no closer than it did in March 2017 when the plaintiff hired RL Marine," the lawsuit said.
In September and October, Drucker began to question some of the charges on the invoices - which he continued to pay - such as "excessive labor charges, dehumidifier charges, gelcoat waxing, etc.," the lawsuit said.
"Lee stated to Drucker on several occasions during the relationship ‘I am working for the Lord, I don’t care about the money so long as I can put food on my table'," the lawsuit said. "During the relationship Lee would call the plaintiff to pray with him, seek his advice on life issues, and gained plaintiff’s trust over time. Drucker grew to trust Lee extensively. Lee invited the plaintiff to his church when he was in town to attend services where Lee was a leader in the church."
By December Drucker "was becoming worried" but Lee's response was "Stop worrying and trust me – I will get it done," the lawsuit said.
On Dec. 20, Lee e-mailed Drucker a "letter of discontinued service" stating it had "become evident that you are no longer satisfied with RL Marine's prices and unfortunately, we cannot afford to extend credit on your behalf any longer," the lawsuit said. "At the time of the letter, the plaintiff had paid RL Marine approximately $670,000 over the preceding nine months for work on the Vitamin Sea and had always paid RL Marine's invoices within 30 days of issuance."
When Drucker went to Florida to secure the Vitamin Sea, he found "the vessel was in a state of mass disorganization and disrepair" and that very little of what Lee said he'd done had been done, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed by attorney Daniel DeSouza of DeSouza Law in Fort Lauderdale under Case No. 0:18-CV-60993-WPD