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  1. #1
    Charter Member
    pa
    Pirate of the Ays

    May 2004
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    Judge dismisses South Carolina treasure lawsuit

    BRUCE SMITH
    Associated Press
    CHARLESTON, S.C. - A state judge dismissed a lawsuit stemming from the discovery of the steamer SS Republic and its trove of $75 million in gold and artifacts, ruling South Carolina is not the place to hear the matter.
    But an attorney for the plaintiffs filed a motion Monday asking that Circuit Judge J.C. Nicholson Jr. reconsider and hear more arguments.
    The 210-foot sidewheel steamer, from which 51,000 gold coins were recovered, was discovered in 2003 off the Southeast coast.
    It was taking money and supplies from New York to New Orleans after the Civil War when it sank in a hurricane on Oct. 25, 1865.
    The lawsuit alleged Odyssey Marine Exploration of Florida found the vessel using information a South Carolina shipwreck hunter provided.
    In an order signed earlier this month and filed last week, the judge ruled South Carolina has no stake in resolving the dispute.
    "The property in dispute and the activities that lead to this dispute took place in Florida," the judge wrote. "South Carolina's adjudicating this dispute would impinge on Florida's sovereignty and its right to adjudicate a dispute between two Florida corporations arising out of actions that took place in Florida."
    The plaintiffs, including a company operated by underwater archaeologist Lee Spence, make four claims including breach of contract and civil conspiracy alleging neither the treasure nor the credit for finding the wreck was shared.
    The judge heard arguments on the dismissal motion in April.
    Attorney Carl Muller, representing Spence, said Monday that during the hearing, the defendants had 45 minutes to argue for dismissal and he received only about 10 minutes.
    "Florida has a strong interest in adjudicating this dispute because Florida law will apply, the great majority of witnesses reside in Florida and Tampa, Fla., has an interest in an action affecting a publicly traded company that is located there," the judge wrote.
    Spence's company, Republic & Eagle Associates, is incorporated in Florida although its principal place of business is Summerville.
    While the boat conducting search operations for Odyssey docked in Charleston several times to avoid bad weather "these few and sporadic contacts with a South Carolina port are not sufficient to subject Odyssey to general jurisdiction in South Carolina," the judge ruled.
    A federal judge in Florida awarded ownership of the wreck to Odyssey in early 2004 and the plaintiffs made no claim then, the defendant's motion to dismiss noted.
    Spence is also involved in a federal lawsuit over the discovery of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley off South Carolina in 1995.

  2. #2

    Jun 2006
    Vero Beach, Florida
    85

    Re: Judge dismisses South Carolina treasure lawsuit

    Didn;t do anything to help the stock! It dropped 9% today! ... Buying opportunity
    Press release from the company mentions the new ship, but nothing on this lawsuit?

  3. #3
    Charter Member
    pa
    Pirate of the Ays

    May 2004
    Panama
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    Judge reinstates treasure lawsuit over sunken SS Republic

    An Update...


    By BRUCE SMITH
    Associated Press Writer


    CHARLESTON, S.C. | A judge reversed his earlier decision and ruled a lawsuit over the steamer SS Republic and its trove of $75 million in gold and artifacts may be heard in South Carolina.

    The judge last year dismissed a lawsuit brought by South Carolina shipwreck hunters over the spoils, saying the case should be brought in Florida.

    But Circuit Judge J.C. Nicholson Jr. heard additional arguments and on Friday filed an order saying his initial decision was wrong.

    The 210-foot sidewheel steamer Republic was carrying gold and supplies from New York to New Orleans when it sank in a hurricane off the Georgia coast in late 1865. It was found in 2003 and divers recovered 51,000 gold coins.

    The lawsuit claims Odyssey Marine Exploration of Tampa, Fla., found the vessel using information South Carolina shipwreck hunter Lee Spence provided.

    The plaintiffs, including a company incorporated in Florida and operated by Spence, claim breach of contract and civil conspiracy and say neither the spoils nor the credit for finding the wreck were shared.

    The lawsuit seeks actual and punitive damages to be determined by a jury.

    In his initial order, Nicholson said there was not enough contact with South Carolina for the case to be heard here. The new order said the defendants docked their research vessel in Charleston and that Odyssey employees "transacted business, purchased supplies and fuel, rented cars, sent and received packages and made and received telephone calls - all in South Carolina."

    Carl Muller, an attorney for Spence and other plaintiffs, said he expects a trial could begin in the fall.

    "We threw in with the other side to find this enormous treasure of gold on the ocean floor," he said. "They took it themselves, now a South Carolina jury is going to decide what our share is and we look forward to that."

    William Turner Boone, who represents Odyssey Marine, its president John Morris and two other defendants did not want to talk about the lawsuit.

    In documents filed last year, the defendants noted a federal judge in Florida awarded ownership of the wreck to Odyssey in early 2004.

    The plaintiffs raised no issue then because they thought the defendants would honor an agreement, Muller said.

    "A deal is a deal. The deal was we gave them our treasure map and they were supposed to go out and get the boat and find it," he said.

    Spence also is involved in a federal lawsuit over the discovery of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley off South Carolina in 1995.

  4. #4

    Oct 2006
    Coastal, NC
    Garrett Infinium LS, Garret Seahunter MK II, Geometrics 882, Marine Sonic SS
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    Re: Judge reinstates treasure lawsuit over sunken SS Republic

    Quote Originally Posted by wreckdiver1715

    "A deal is a deal. The deal was we gave them our treasure map and they were supposed to go out and get the boat and find it," he said.
    Sounds like an air tight contract to me. Has any one seen any transcripts that might shed any light on this?
    www.coastalmarinesalvage.com

  5. #5
    us
    discovering & preserving our past for future generations

    Dec 2004
    Aquapulse, DetectorPro Headhunter, Fisher F75
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    Shipwrecks

    Re: Judge dismisses South Carolina treasure lawsuit

    I don't know the particulars about the case, but dang, I sure would like to see Lee Spence win one of these for a change.

  6. #6
    us
    ScubaGecko

    Jun 2004
    Beaufort, SC
    Garrett Sea Hunter Mk II
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    Re: Judge dismisses South Carolina treasure lawsuit

    Lee is a nice guy, and he definitely deserves credit for the work that was done on the Republic and the Hunley.

    I haven't talked to him in a while, but look forward to seeing the outcome of these cases.

    Robert in SC

  7. #7
    us
    Mar 2006
    Florida
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    Re: Judge dismisses South Carolina treasure lawsuit

    Novelist and Tampa company both in hunter's cross hairs

    A South Carolina man, suing over the SS Republic, tangled with Clive Cussler over the HL Hunley.

    By SCOTT BARANCIK, Times Staff Writer
    Published January 26, 2005

    Bestselling novelist Clive Cussler. Tampa shipwreck-hunter Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc.

    Two very different animals with something in common: Both have been sued by a South Carolina man who claims he deserves credit for shipwrecks they discovered.

    Shipwreck hunter E. Lee Spence is one of four men who recently sued Odyssey over the SSRepublic, a side-wheel steamer that sank in the Atlantic Ocean about 100 miles off the Georgia coast with thousands of gold and silver coins aboard in 1865. Odyssey found the ship in June 2003 and parlayed it into a National Geographic TV special and millions of dollars in coin sales.

    Spence and his co-plaintiffs claim the company used their research to find the ship but failed to share the booty. Odyssey says it relied on its own data.

    Spence, who did not respond to requests for an interview, has rowed this path before.

    For more than three decades, he has claimed he discovered the HL Hunley, a hand-cranked Confederate submarine that successfully torpedoed a Union warship in 1864 and disappeared the same night. Spence says he was fishing off Charleston Harbor in 1970 when a fish trap snagged on something. According to a court filing, he dove down and, "realizing what he had found, raced to the surface and repeatedly screamed, "I've found the Hunley."

    Spence continued to make the claim even after a nonprofit that Cussler founded, the National Underwater Marine Agency, discovered the Hunley in 1995 and after the South Carolina Hunley Commission deemed NUMA the ship's official founders in 1997.

    NUMA sued Spence for defamation in 2001; he countersued. The case has dragged on for four years. It is scheduled for trial in April.

    At times during the case, it has seemed as if Spence might fold. In 2003, he asked the U.S. District Court judge in Charleston, S.C., to delay the proceedings because they were aggravating his "severe depression and bipolar disorder" and twice led him to be hospitalized.

    Cussler asked U.S. District Court Judge Sol Blatt Jr. to order a mental evaluation for Spence and alleged Spence was seeking a delay not because of mental illness but because he had run out of money to pay his lawyers.

    Indeed, Spence's lawyers dropped him for nonpayment that year. He has represented himself since.

    Spence and Cussler each wrote a nonfiction book containing details about their hunts for the Hunley. In 1995, Spence self-published Treasures of the Confederate Coast: The "Real Rhett Butler' & Other Revelations. A year later, Cussler released The Sea Hunters: True Adventures With Famous Shipwrecks.

    Spence claims Cussler engineered the Hunley's discovery in order to boost sales of Sea Hunters. Cussler's attorney, John Lay Jr. of the Ellis Lawhorne law firm in Columbia, S.C., said his client had given far more money to NUMA than he had received in royalties from the book.

    The Hunley was exhumed in 2000. It is housed at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, S.C.

    Spence's involvement in research on the Republic is well-documented. A 1995 news release issued by Seahawk Deep Ocean Technology, a company founded by Odyssey co-founders Greg Stemm and John Morris, identified Spence as one of two researchers on the project. Another credited Spence and co-plaintiff Alan Riebe with helping prove that the Republic was carrying gold coins when it sank.

    A 1995 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission said Seahawk gave Spence 40,000 shares of its stock in exchange for his 10 percent share of the Republic, if found.

    Stemm and Morris say they never had access to the plaintiffs' research because they resigned from Seahawk a year prior, in 1994. They formed Odyssey in 1997.


    Odyssey spokeswoman Laura Lionetti Barton declined to comment.

  8. #8
    us
    ScubaGecko

    Jun 2004
    Beaufort, SC
    Garrett Sea Hunter Mk II
    1,903
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    Re: Judge dismisses South Carolina treasure lawsuit

    Fisheye,

    I have personally talked with Lee a number of times and find him to be very genuine and sincere in his efforts. He is well respected as one of the foremost experts on South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina shipwrecks and his research is obsessively thorough. I can only imagine the data he hasn't published. He actually visits the site here occasionally as well.

    Not to be antagonistic, but other than these two cases, can you provide any additional information to support your claim?

    Robert in SC

  9. #9
    us
    Jan 2005
    Columbia, South Carolina
    Fisher Research Labs, White's, Mine Lab, etc.
    13
    3 times

    Re: Judge dismisses South Carolina treasure lawsuit

    Quote Originally Posted by FISHEYE
    Republic & Eagle Associates are nothing but bottom feeders.they wait till someone finds a shipwreck with alot of treasure.then say they found it first with thier research.tie the wreck up in court for the next 5 or more years so everyone loses.it happened once before.same guys but now with a new company name.beware.
    I just saw the above comment for the first time. Besides being poorly written, it is patently false and I consider to be an outright slander and thus libel. If the writer actually believes it is true he can add his name to it and defend his statement. Or, he can offer a sincere written apology. But, since he hasn't chosen to properly identify himself, I hope people will disregard what he has written.

    Republic & Eagle Associates was a company first set up well over 10 years ago (long before Odyssey allegedly began its search for the Republic) so it isn't a new name. It was formed to handle what I and my associates expected to be my share of the treasure that we all expected to be salvaged from that wreck as a result of the joint venture I had originally entered into in 1991 with Seahawk, that was then run by John Morris and Greg Stemm.

    Furthermore, none of the persons in Republic & Eagle Associates and/or in Sea Miners, the other plaintiff in our suit against Seahawk, were part of the counter-suit that I brought against NUMA/Cussler in federal district court. And, I brought that suit against NUMA/Cussler only after NUMA had sued me for allegedly defaming them.

    My counter-suit against NUMA/Cussler was dismissed in May of 2007 when they won a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that I had waited too long to file my complaint. Even though the fight had already cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars, I fought to keep the fight in court even when it became clear that there would be no money for me to win. The judge made his final ruling in June of 2008. It was, like many cases, decided on legal issues not on the merits. This past week NUMA dropped their suit, which I had very much wanted my defense heard as the judge had already indicated that I would be allowed to introduce, as part of my defense, evidence that I had discovered the Hunley.

    I wanted an unbiased jury to hear both sides and then decide which of us was telling the truth. When my suit was tossed out, and it meant I could never get or collect an award for either my costs or the damages I sought from NUMA and Cussler, I still wanted NUMA's case to go forward. I wanted that because I was confident that I would win. However, for right now anyway, I won't get that chance. Last week, NUMA dropped their suit against me. Despite what it might appear from their allegations, I am currently good health, mentally, physically and financially. I have millions in assets and they had been made aware of that, so ask yourself - why would they drop it?

    Now, I am starting to wonder if this slander about Republic & Eagle Associates wasn't made on the basis of misiformation supplied by of one or more of the parties that I have already been fighting. Regardless of the answer to that, this person is wrong in his assessment of the facts.

    signed:
    E. Lee Spence, VP
    Republic & Eagle Associates
    PO Box 4068
    Irmo, SC 29063
    843 532-8222

    Dr. E. Lee Spence
    President, Sea Research Society
    VP, International Diving Institute
    PO Box 4068
    Irmo, SC 29063
    843 352-8222

  10. #10
    us
    Feb 2004
    lake mary florida
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    Re: Judge dismisses South Carolina treasure lawsuit

    Lee,

    If the person that took the photo that you use for your avatar here on t-net is involved with you and your company and was involved with your lawsuits against the treasure companies.Then what i said is true of that person.Someone that i met awhile back told me that since the photo taker was involved with you and the lawsuits.I guess i just assumed you were just as bad as the photo taker.Accept my apology if you think what i said was directed towards you.
    Millions of dollars of Spanish treasure await those who would dare brave the eye of the hurricane.

  11. #11
    us
    Mar 2006
    Florida
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    Re: Judge dismisses South Carolina treasure lawsuit

    The case has been dismissed with prejudice.

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  12. #12
    es
    Apr 2005
    Sardinera, Mona Island
    GTI2500,Seahunter Mark II, Eagle eye two box
    383

    Re: Judge dismisses South Carolina treasure lawsuit

    The lawsuit alleged Odyssey Marine Exploration of Florida found the vessel using information a South Carolina shipwreck hunter provided
    Odyseey=problem,trial,lawsuit

    Voice in one of the board in "Medal of Honor" PC game online:

    " Only you know to get trouble"

    Amona
    "Live your Adventure"

  13. #13
    Charter Member
    pa
    Pirate of the Ays

    May 2004
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    Re: Judge dismisses South Carolina treasure lawsuit

    Now, if they can get the same result as regards to Spain.

  14. #14
    es
    Apr 2005
    Sardinera, Mona Island
    GTI2500,Seahunter Mark II, Eagle eye two box
    383

    Re: Judge dismisses South Carolina treasure lawsuit

    Well if Spain is spending more time in trial and lawsuit rather than finding gold on sea, then you're right, but everytime I hear or read a thread about Odyseey always is the same subject "trial, lawsuit,etc.

    I do Electrical Engineer for living. If I going to spend more time on court because an Architect, contractors or the county lawsuit due I do mistake in my drawings, then I'm in the wrong business.

    Nothing personal against you, or somebody here, it's the bad reputation that Mr.Odyssey is creating in front the World, the 'pirate image',and who is going to pay for those mistakes? you, myself and the future treasure hunter generation when they going to ask permission to salvage some wreck and the answer will be "not permission for salvage".

    In that point I'm right.

    Amona
    "Live your Adventure"

 

 

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