Game developer Richard "Lord British" Garriott won a $28 million lawsuit against former employer NCSoft today for breach of contract. The Korean-based software company fired him while he was in space.
No, seriously -- Garriott took a leave of absence from NCSoft (which bought Garriott's company, Destination Games, in 2001) during the year of 2008 to pursue his dream of space flight. After traveling with Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station, he was informed during post-flight quarantine that his time at NCSoft was up.
At issue in the lawsuit is whether or not NCSoft violated their contract with Garriott about what to do with his stock options in the company if he ever left. The contract said his stock options were supposed to remain in place "in the event of his termination by the company, but would expire within 90 days in the case of his voluntary departure."
NCSoft claimed Garriott left voluntarily, thus forcing him to sell his stock options early in a lousy market (think mid-recession), which cost him millions of dollars, Garriott's lawyers argued. The jury agreed that the contract was breached and awarded Garriott $28 million in damages.
Not like he needs the money, but firing someone while they're in space and then saying he left voluntarily is a raw deal. Sure, he technically did drop off the face of the planet, but it was a planned leave of absence.