21 Feb 2015

NZ sailor's lawyer back in US court

3:31 pm on 21 February 2015

The lawyer for a New Zealand sailor formerly with the America's Cup champion, Oracle Team USA, is back at the US District Court in San Francisco filing more documents against the team.

Joe Spooner, who worked as grinder, is suing Oracle Racing for US$750,000 (NZ$962,879) in unpaid wages and damages for alleged wrongful discharge.

Mr Spooner's lawyer Patricia Barlow said she was filing more documents with the US District Court today.

In the sailor's court files, obtained by Radio New Zealand, it said Mr Spooner was to be paid $US25,000 a month under his contract, until seven days after the June 2017 America's Cup final in Bermuda.

He was also to receive a bonus of no less than six months of average wages.

But on 16 January Mr Spooner got a letter firing him, and he has not received payment since 31 January.

The file said having been wrongfully discharged, Mr Spooner demanded his full wages for the duration of his contract by 9 February, but has yet to receive anything.

The sailor filed a suit in court for his wages to be paid, and for the Oracle syndicate's prototype AC45 racing yacht to be a used as a lien.

Mr Spooner's complaint asked for the yacht to be arrested as-soon-as-possible, as he suspected it would be moved from San Francisco to Bermuda on or before 5 March.

According to American Maritime law, a vessel could be confiscated if a sailor is owed wages.

Mr Spooner's lawyer, Patricia Barlow, said she would be filing more documents with the US District Court today.

Oracle Team US declined to comment.