$70 Mil Yacht Deal Prompts Lawsuit Over Allegedly Stolen Wages

A Broward County man has just learned that people might backstab each other over large sums of money.

David Frazer, who worked for a local, high-end ship broker, says his former employer cheated him out of a nearly $5 million commission, according to Broward County Civil Court filings. So he's suing that company, Merle Wood Associates Inc., to get the money.

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Although lawsuits over unpaid wages are not entirely uncommon, the court documents on the subject matter -- Fort Lauderdale's yachting world -- give a unique glimpse into the dynamics of the area's elite.

Frazer, who started working with Wood in 2001, claims he was a go-getting salesman.

Around 2003, "a highly successful finance executive" by the name of Bruce Sherman contacted Frazer "to discuss the possibility of Sherman acquiring a yacht."

The "highly successful" Sherman seemed to waffle for seven years on whether he even wanted a fancy boat. Indeed, from 2003 to 2010, Frazer spent "countless hours" trying to find a yacht for the indecisive financier.

Merle Wood, filings indicate, eventually caught wind of superrich Sherman and took interest in the client. The three wound up meeting in Naples in 2008. Frazer also picked out a couple of 200-foot yachts to show off.

When Sherman retired in 2009, becoming "even more interested in purchasing a yacht," Frazer upped his sales efforts even more.

He and Frazer planned a shopping trip for summer 2010. They were going to go Europe together, so Frazer could help Sherman find the yacht of his dreams.

But in March 2010, Wood hired another yacht broker, Francois Van Weil, and fired Frazer two months later.

Then, in September 2010, Sherman finally settled on a 210-foot boat, Secret, for $69.5 million.
Van Weil and Wood made $4,865,000 off the deal.

Frazer claims the money is rightfully his.

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