MARTIME SALVAGE OF TREASURE AND SHIPWRECKS
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ATTORNEY PROFILE

FRANK D. BUTLER is an attorney in the State of Florida for the past 22 years and is licensed in every Court in Florida, including all state and federal courts. Frank is an avid outdoor enthusiast and represents people injured in boating accidents and cruise ship injuries. You should be careful to hire an attorney who knows the issues specific to cruise ship cases and boating accidents.

I grew up in Florida and have been around the boating and marine industry my entire life. I have filed suit against all of the cruiselines that operate in Florida and have successfully handled boating cases throughout Florida. It’s what we do. Maritime law is very complex and you need to make sure that the attorney you choose has experience in handling these types of cases.

Many attorneys advertise for boating injury and cruise ship cases. See our “Very Important Information” under the Cruise Ship button and our “10 Things You Need To Know” under the Boating Accidents button. If the attorney you are considering cannot answer these questions, you should consider whether they actually handle these types of cases.
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Why would an attorney just advertise for boating or cruise cases if they do not handle them? First, an attorney can refer your case to a maritime attorney and collect a referral fee. Second, an attorney can try to handle your boating or cruise ship claim even if they have never handled one at all. At our law firm we do not handle real estate law, bankruptcy, divorces, contracts, criminal law, probate, tax matters, medical malpractice, etc.

Your consultation with us is at absolutely no charge to you. There are no fees and no costs to you unless we win your case. See our Cruise Ship button and Boating Accidents button for very important information you should know regarding your claim. Maritime law imposes shorter statutes of limitation than most state courts.


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Serving all of Florida
Our base office is in Pinellas Park, FL

MARTIME SALVAGE OF TREASURE AND SHIPWRECKS

What Treasures Lie Beneath Maritime Salvage & Shipwrecks

In the world of maritime salvage, the most common “res” (Latin for “thing”) recovered or savedFlorida Treasure Salvage Attorney from total loss is a vessel. (Sailboat, powerboat, barge, etc.) However, this does not always have to be the case in order for a claim to be classified as maritime salvage—and to have maritime law govern the outcome. It is important to recall that maritime law is a mix of hundreds of years of tradition that formed a “common law”, and it is supplemented by U.S. federal statutes and federal judicial decisions.  

Only recently comes news that an archeological group located the Spanish galleon, San Jose, somewhere—the exact location is still undisclosed–off the coast of Colombia. It is estimated that the gold, silver, and artifacts on this early-1700’s vessel could be worth more than $17 billion dollars. Instant riches for company and crew who found the shipwreck right? Not so fast.

The U.S. Congress enacted the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1602-1611 (2006). Amongst other protections provided to foreign countries, this Act was essentially interpreted to mean that no foreign government’s property could be taken—or in maritime law terms “arrested”. This law results in the inability of treasure salvors to be able to bring the shipwrecks and their cargo under the jurisdiction of the federal courts which the salvors would need in order to potentially gain ownership of any assets the treasure salvor may have located.

A prime example of this situation is the case of Odyssey Marine and another shipwrecked Spanish Martime Shipwreck Salvage Attorney In Floridagalleon known as the Mercedes. Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. v. Unidentified Shipwrecked Vessel, 675 F. Supp. 2d 1126 (M.D. Fla. 2009), and the affirming opinion of the court of appeals (Doc. 286; Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. v. Unidentified Shipwrecked Vessel, 657 F.3d 1159 (11th Cir. 2011), cert. denied, 132 S. Ct. 2379 (2012)) is the story of a treasure salvor company which located and recovered a significant shipwreck but which eventually lost all of it. The value of the recovered treasure from the Mercedes was estimated to be in the range of $500,000,000 at one point.

Odyssey itself spent more than $2.6 million retrieving the treasure from the Mercedes, according to a Business Week magazine report. In the end, the federal trial court and then the appeals court decided under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act that Odyssey had no legal ability to arrest the vessel, nor any of the treasure at the shipwreck. Therefore, the federal courts had no jurisdiction to allow Odyssey to hold the treasure which Odyssey had recovered. In the end, Odyssey was forced to send all of the treasure it had salvaged and handed it over to the government of Spain. Odyssey was never paid anything for its costs of searching for, recovering, or transporting the treasure which it then had to ship to Spain. Zero.

In summary, while this latest news of the find of the Spanish galleon, the San Jose and its potential, $17 billion cargo is all the news, it may be Spain who ends up with the treasure in the long run. For treasure salvors, it may be that you can find it, recover it, but it does not guarantee that you will be able to keep it. And certainly, Spain will be pointing back to the precedent set in the Odyssey case which officially ended in Spain’s favor in 2012.

 

Shipwreck Attorney in Florida

What Treasures Lie Beneath Maritime Salvage & Shipwrecks

In the world of maritime salvage, the most common “res” (Latin for “thing”) recovered or savedFlorida Treasure Salvage Attorney from total loss is a vessel. (Sailboat, powerboat, barge, etc.) However, this does not always have to be the case in order for a claim to be classified as maritime salvage—and to have maritime law govern the outcome. It is important to recall that maritime law is a mix of hundreds of years of tradition that formed a “common law”, and it is supplemented by U.S. federal statutes and federal judicial decisions.  

Only recently comes news that an archeological group located the Spanish galleon, San Jose, somewhere—the exact location is still undisclosed–off the coast of Colombia. It is estimated that the gold, silver, and artifacts on this early-1700’s vessel could be worth more than $17 billion dollars. Instant riches for company and crew who found the shipwreck right? Not so fast.

The U.S. Congress enacted the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1602-1611 (2006). Amongst other protections provided to foreign countries, this Act was essentially interpreted to mean that no foreign government’s property could be taken—or in maritime law terms “arrested”. This law results in the inability of treasure salvors to be able to bring the shipwrecks and their cargo under the jurisdiction of the federal courts which the salvors would need in order to potentially gain ownership of any assets the treasure salvor may have located.

A prime example of this situation is the case of Odyssey Marine and another shipwrecked Spanish Martime Shipwreck Salvage Attorney In Floridagalleon known as the Mercedes. Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. v. Unidentified Shipwrecked Vessel, 675 F. Supp. 2d 1126 (M.D. Fla. 2009), and the affirming opinion of the court of appeals (Doc. 286; Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. v. Unidentified Shipwrecked Vessel, 657 F.3d 1159 (11th Cir. 2011), cert. denied, 132 S. Ct. 2379 (2012)) is the story of a treasure salvor company which located and recovered a significant shipwreck but which eventually lost all of it. The value of the recovered treasure from the Mercedes was estimated to be in the range of $500,000,000 at one point.

Odyssey itself spent more than $2.6 million retrieving the treasure from the Mercedes, according to a Business Week magazine report. In the end, the federal trial court and then the appeals court decided under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act that Odyssey had no legal ability to arrest the vessel, nor any of the treasure at the shipwreck. Therefore, the federal courts had no jurisdiction to allow Odyssey to hold the treasure which Odyssey had recovered. In the end, Odyssey was forced to send all of the treasure it had salvaged and handed it over to the government of Spain. Odyssey was never paid anything for its costs of searching for, recovering, or transporting the treasure which it then had to ship to Spain. Zero.

In summary, while this latest news of the find of the Spanish galleon, the San Jose and its potential, $17 billion cargo is all the news, it may be Spain who ends up with the treasure in the long run. For treasure salvors, it may be that you can find it, recover it, but it does not guarantee that you will be able to keep it. And certainly, Spain will be pointing back to the precedent set in the Odyssey case which officially ended in Spain’s favor in 2012.

 

By : First Page Attorney | May 24, 2018 | Marine Salvage