A three-judge panel said the district court called it wrong by saying the French government was protected from a suit brought by Global Marine Exploration Inc.
ORLANDO, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES, May 18, 2022 /EINPresswire.com/ — Global Marine Exploration moves forward
After 11th Circ. Reversal
The Eleventh Circuit has ruled in favor of a 16th-century French shipwreck found off the Florida coast, determining the French government can't evade U.S. jurisdiction in the dispute because it engaged in commercial activity to recover the remains.
A three-judge panel ruled Thursday that a district court in Tallahassee, Fl. Ruled incorrectly when they said the French government was protected from a suit brought by shipwreck salvage company Global Marine Exploration Inc. under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, and that a commercial activity exception didn't apply.
The French government had engaged in commercial activity in the process of colluding with the State of Florida for the salvage of the shipwrecks GME discovered. The court said. Since the French had planned and entered into private contracts to recover the ship called La Trinite, which is conduct a private entity could and does engage in, the Eleventh Circuit said the French had shed “pierced” their immunity.
The court said precedent disregards the "purpose" of activities when evaluating whether an exception exists, and instead focuses on the actual actions and whether a private entity might engage in those activities.
"The district court focused on the fact that France had entered into the declaration of intent with another sovereign power (Florida) in order to recover, preserve and display the shipwreck sites artifacts. including La Trinite, and to promote the shared history of the United States and France in Florida," the Eleventh Circuit said. "But the district court's analysis of France's activities was too narrow and 'purpose' oriented."
M. Stephen Turner of M. Stephen Turner PA told Law360 on Friday that he and his client are "glad" the court reached its decision and felt it was the right decision to be made.
"We are prepared to go and vindicate this man's finding and think it's just not fair for the government to put someone out on the limb for nothing when he's the one who's made a valuable discovery under the law," Turner said.
The dispute relates to Global Marine's discovery in 2015 of La Trinite and other shipwrecked vessels while on contract for salvage activities off the Florida coast with the state Department of State's Division of Historical Resources.
Global Marine said it expected to work on the salvage of the shipwreck and others nearby when it was discovered, and informed the state of its whereabouts when asked.. But the company said it later found out the state was working with the French government to retrieve the vessel, including through contracts with other companies, thus denying Global Marine of the intellectual property it had attained through the discovery of the exact coordinates of the ship, as well as the fruits of its millions of dollars in investments it committed leading up to the discovery.
The company said it has spent $5 million searching for ships around Cape Canaveral, and that its deal under Florida's archeological salvage plan would have allowed it to keep 80% of what was recovered, with the state keeping 20%, but it was left empty-handed after the French got involved
CEO Robert H Pritchett III said the company was deprived of a min of Twelve Billion dollars in future earnings and shareholder value when the State Of Florida and France colluded against the company to take away the discoveries. Robert H Pritchett, CEO GME, 772-205-8184, email@example.com
Robert H Pritchett III
Global MArine Exploration Inc.
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