74-foot Yacht “Arrested” in Financial Dispute

6 November 2019

After the horns went off signaling the end of the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, U.S. marshals boarded a 74-foot yacht at Bahia Mar, where she was displayed by the manufacturer, Sunseeker International, The Sun-Sentinel reports.

U.S. District Judge Celia Altonaga authorized the boat’s “arrest,” which removes a vessel from the control of parties involved in a dispute until it’s settled. In this case, there are four parties involved in the dispute over the $4 million yacht — buyer Kevin Turner, Sunseeker International, Sunseeker USA, and Fort Lauderdale-based broker Rick Obey & Associates.

The marshals transferred custody of the vessel to a court-appointed third-party custodian, National Maritime Services, and she was taken to a secure “undisclosed location,” Turner told The Sun-Sentinel.

Obey and Sunseeker are tied up in a legal dispute as they are currently suing each other over various alleged breaches, The Sun-Sentinel reports. It all allegedly started when Sunseeker refused to take responsibility for a catastrophic engine failure on the maiden voyage of one of Obey’s customers in May 2018. This caused payments from Obey to Sunseeker to slow for several boats under construction and then stop before Turner’s boat was delivered, he says.

Turner filed a lawsuit in May 2019 and said he’s one of six buyers who paid the broker to have Sunseeker build boats for them and are now all in limbo while the two companies battle it out in court.

UPDATE: 02/21/2020
The 74-foot yacht that was placed under arrest at the 2019 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show has been released from custody and returned to the manufacturer, according to The Sun-Sentinel.

Kevin Turner, who paid Rick Obey & Associates $4 million to have the vessel built, filed a federal suit to place the vessel “under arrest” last year. Then Sunseeker filed a motion seeking the boat’s release, saying that Turner did have a legal claim to the vessel under federal maritime law.

U.S. District Judge Celia M. Altonaga agreed, “stating that a sale contract does not bestow rights of ownership and that Turner did not show that he had legal title to the yacht,” The Sun-Sentinel reports. The purchase agreement stated that the title would be transferred at closing when full payment was made to Sunseeker USA, but Obey never made a full and final payment.

Turner still has a pending lawsuit against the manufacturer, Sunseeker International, its subsidiary Sunseeker USA, and Rick Obey.