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Another Odyssey Decisions from FL courts


Case No. 8:08-cv-1044-T-23MAP.
United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division.

July 30, 2010.

STEVEN D. MERRYDAY, District Judge.

The plaintiff, Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc., recovers artifacts from sunken wrecks. In this case, the plaintiff seeks title to artifacts recovered from Le Marquis Tournay, a French vessel that sank in the English Channel in the late eighteenth century. (Doc. 28 at 2) The plaintiff believes that English privateers owned Le Marquis Tournay at the time of the ship’s demise. (Doc. 28 at 2) The wreck, which includes cannon and other valuable artifacts, rests on the floor of the English Channel, at less than 200 meters beneath the surface, and within a five-nautical-mile radius from centerpoint coordinates 49° 46′ N., 3° 31′ W. (Doc. 1 at 2; Doc. 28-1 at 2) The wreck lies “beyond the territorial waters or contiguous zone of any sovereign nation.” (Doc. 1 at 2)

The plaintiff tendered a brick from the wreck as evidence of “symbolic possession,” the clerk issued a warrant of arrest in rem, and the plaintiff published notice of the find in The Tampa Tribune and The Times of London. (Doc. 28 at 2) The published notice identifies the wreck as Le Marquis Tournay but withholds the location of the wreck. (Doc. 17) The clerk entered a default on June 30, 2009. (Doc. 21) The plaintiff moved (Doc. 23) for default judgment, and a December 30, 2009, order (Doc. 24) denies the motion for failure to include the coordinates of the wreck. A February 11, 2010, order (Doc. 26) denies the plaintiff’s motion to submit the wreck’s coordinates under seal.

The plaintiff renews the motion for default judgment and seeks “title and ownership in the artifacts it has recovered, and those it will recover, from the defendant wreck site.” (Doc. 28 at 7) The motion asserts that the plaintiff recovered from the wreck a shard of glass, a ship’s bell, and a piece of sheething. (Doc. 28 Ex. B) Although the motion includes a blurry picture of a fourth artifact, no description accompanies the picture. (Doc. 28 Ex. B)

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