Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc., the world leader in the field of deep-ocean shipwreck exploration, yesterday filed its Response to Spain's Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment in the "Black Swan" admiralty case pending in U.S. Federal Court in Tampa, Florida. In its pleadings, accompanied by over 1,000 pages of supportive documentation and imagery, Odyssey asserts that the "Black Swan" site and the cargo recovered do not represent an entity to which sovereign immunity would apply. Spain had argued in September that the U.S. Federal Court did not have jurisdiction over the case and that the case should therefore be dismissed.
Based on Odyssey's exhaustive research and evaluation of all data gathered, Odyssey's filing concludes that even if the site discovered is eventually proven to be associated with the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, which is unclear from the available evidence, the ship should not be accorded sovereign immunity. Furthermore, the vast majority of the cargo aboard was commercial cargo that was privately owned and was recovered without disturbing any ship remains.
"I am really pleased that through our filings, the public now can finally see the facts in this case for themselves. The historical, legal, numismatic and archaeological experts have done an outstanding job of thoroughly and objectively analyzing all the facts to arrive at their conclusions rather than choosing details in an attempt to match them to premature conclusions. As the public will now see, there are many facts that contradict the claims made by Spanish experts relating to the site," stated Greg Stemm, Odyssey's CEO. "We continue to hold out hope that Spanish officials, upon reviewing our data, will agree to further consider working amicably with Odyssey to reach an agreement that respects the rights of all claimants, including Spain, other countries and the descendants of private property owners, while respecting the cultural and historical interests in the site."
"Odyssey has heard from several potential claimants who believe they may have an interest in the case if, in fact, the "Black Swan" site is proven to be related to the Mercedes. We find them to be as puzzled as we are that Spain would seek to obtain sole rights to the coins recovered by Odyssey without considering the potential rights of any other parties. We are confident that our response will make the factual and legal issues clear, and look forward to moving the case toward a determination of the rights of Odyssey and those of any other legitimate claimants," said Melinda MacConnel, Odyssey Vice President and General Counsel.
As a next step, the U.S. District Court judge in Tampa will now consider Spain's motion and Odyssey's response in evaluating whether the Court has jurisdiction over the case.