Here's a look at a wacky case that took place over 25 years ago.
Even today, $700,000 is serious money. But it was probably more so in 1978 when an owner purchased a new Hinkley sailing vessel for an around the world cruise. Long story short, the vessel owner, who was Greek, hired a new American captain. Not long thereafter, the owner flew back to U.S. (with his girlfriend, the court can't resist informing us) leaving our captain with the boat. When shifting ports, Greek customs officers end up breaking open the owner's safe and finding hashish. The captain denied any knowledge or culpability but the owner refused to return to Greece to accept responsibility — although from what I can tell he seemed to concede stateside via an affidavit that it was his ganja. After three months in a Greek gulag, the captain was acquitted. Returning home to the U.S., our captain filed suit against the vessel owner. After a jury trial the captain walked away with $200,000 in compensatory damages and $300,000 in punitive damages. (That's about $1.2 million in today's dollars from what I can figure.)
The appellate decision laid on the detail, and you can tell the appellate judges enjoyed underscoring their disdain for the owner's actions. In responding to the owner's challenge as to the amount of the award, they wrote: "The award is hardly shocking; and considering the evidence, it may well be a bit light."
Now this captain had a reason to be upset. Yes it was an earthly reason, but the captain used the legal system to wrest his vengeance.
Underway and making way.