Odyssey Marine Exploration v. The Unidentified Shipwrecked Vessel, et al., No. 1-10269 (11th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
This case stemmed from Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc.'s (Odyssey) discovery of a 19th Century Spanish vessel in international waters where Odyssey filed a verified admiralty complaint in rem against the shipwrecked vessel and sought a warrant of arrest. The Kingdom of Spain, the Republic of Peru, and twenty-five individuals filed claims against the res and Spain subsequently filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the res was a Spanish warship and the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Odyssey's claims because the vessel was immune from judicial arrest under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1602-1611. The court affirmed the district court's grant of Spain's motion to dismiss where the district court correctly applied the Rule 12(b)(1) standard for factual challenges to jurisdiction to Spain's motion to dismiss; the district court did not abuse its discretion by evaluating Spain's Rule 12(b)(1) motion based on the extensive record before it; the evidence in the record fully supported the finding of the district court that the res was the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes (Mercedes), a Spanish vessel that sank in 1804, for the purposes of sovereign immunity and the district court correctly decided that FSIA immunity applied to the arrest of the Mercedes; the cargo aboard the Mercedes was treated as part of the shipwreck of the Mercedes for sovereign immunity purposes; and the district court did not err when it ordered the Odyssey to release the recovered res to the custody of Spain.