REDWOOD CITY: Oracle Corp. President Larry Ellison may be a swashbuckling
billionaire, but he's no pirate when it comes to his yachts.
A California jury Thursday ruled against a Florida yacht broker who claimed
that Ellison, who is worth an estimated $50 billion and vies for the title of
the richest man in the world, owed him about $700,000 in sales commission for a
192-foot (64-metre) cruiser Ellison bought in 1996.
"The jury found 12 to nothing in favor of all of the defendants on all
of the claims," Ellison's attorney Mark Fowler said after the verdict,
declining further comment.
The jury also dismissed claims by broker Michael Rafferty against the selling
broker, who was paid about $500,000 as part of the $10 million 1996 deal.
Rafferty, who contended that Ellison had made a contract with him before
buying the gleaming, German-built five-deck yacht, told reporters he regretted
the jury's decision and still believed he had a case.
"I obviously wouldn't have wasted four years if I didn't," he said.
Ellison's lawyers had argued that the Oracle chief was an innocent bystander
in a complicated deal negotiated by friends and underlings, and should not be
held responsible for the rivalries that drive sellers of big-ticket boats.
Ellison has since sold the yacht, which he named "Sakura", and
purchased two other, bigger boats.
Oracle is a world leader in database software.
(C) Reuters Limited 2000.