A mega-yacht owned by Miami socialites Jim and Loren Ridinger and often used by major celebrities looking for a good time in South Florida may have been the scene of abuse, a former staff member says.
In a lawsuit that’s about about to go to trial in West Palm Beach, Miami chef Russell Holck claims life on board Utopia isn’t as pretty as some of the boat’s guests. And this year alone, Desperate Housewives’ Eva Longoria and American Idol judge Jennifer Lopez have been spotted canoodling with their significant-other-du-jour on the Ridingers’ 150-foot Utopia.
Now, Holck claims he was physically abused by Jim Ridinger while working on board, and the abuse has made it nearly impossible for him to find another job.
The chef described scenes of drunkenness during which Jim Ridinger, the owner of the multi-level marketing scheme Market America, threw kitchen utensils and food at him, knocking him to the ground and reportedly injuring him. Holck was fired and ordered off the ship. At the time, it was docked in Palm Beach.
The reason for the spat, according to the paperwork: Jim Ridinger didn’t like Holck’s chow!
His three-year court action has grown into a 15-volume monster of a case in which he demands punitive damages.
“We expect substantial damages,” said Holck’s Coral Gables attorney, Alan C. Gold. “My client’s back injury has made it hard for him to work.”
In a statement, Market America attorney Ted Medina wrote: “Russell Holck has a long history of lying and filing frivolous litigation . . . We are eager to see him in court and put an end to this charade.”