Thomas Henry Baker Jr. of Belle Isle, Florida, is suing the town of Palm Beach for failing to remove his yacht after he ran it aground in the early hours of September 7. The suit, which was filed on October 20, alleges that Baker, 63, wasn’t responsible for removing the 72-foot yacht that was reportedly left on a shore south of the Palm Beach inlet for weeks.
The yacht, named Time Out, was finally removed last month as Hurricane Matthew approached Florida. The town only paid $50,000 of the $200,000 it cost to have the boat towed. Baker reportedly tried to have the vessel removed sooner, but the state stopped him because the process could have harmed sea turtles.
Baker was arrested for boating under the influence after he ran the yacht ashore. He allegedly told police that he had been drinking cocktails with his girlfriend when he crashed the vessel.
A few weeks later on September 19, Baker was charged with failing to remove a derelict vessel from state waters by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. He pleaded not guilty to both charges.
Judge Nelson E. Bailey told Baker on Monday that the validity of his failure to remove a derelict vessel charge would be decided later. The judge increased Baker’s bond from $3,000 to $10,000 after being informed by the prosecution that Baker was charged with boating under the influence just three months ago in Brevard County.
The judge also prohibited Baker from consuming alcohol until his final disposition next year and ordered him to check in with authorities using a phone twice a week. He is also subject to drug and alcohol testing with 24-hours notice.
Baker is seeking $500,000 in damages from Palm Beach because Time Out, which was appartenly his residence, was reportedly destroyed when it was removed. Baker is also seeking to get back the $50,000 the town charged him for the boat’s extraction.
Town officials told the press that they plan to fight a suit, but a hearing date has not yet been set.