Williamson v. Recovery Ltd. P'ship, No. 12-3949 (6th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
The 19th-century steamship S.S. Central America, the “Ship of Gold,” sank in the Atlantic Ocean in 1857, taking many tons of gold with her. The wreckage was discovered more than 130 years later by explorers led by Thompson, in one of the most significant finds in maritime history. Thompson is a fugitive from the law. Those who assisted Thompson in locating the wreckage signed non-disclosure agreements in exchange for a percentage of the net recovery, but none have received payment. In their suit, Thompson’s business entities asserted a two-year statute of limitations for actions in salvage and three counterclaims. The district court rejected the time-bar argument and granted summary judgment against all counterclaims. While an interlocutory appeal was pending, the district court granted prejudgment attachment and an injunction against one of the entities and Thompson, forbidding them from divesting certain assets. The Sixth Circuit agreed that the time bar does not apply, affirmed summary judgment against the counterclaims for failure to raise an issue of fact material to the disposition of the case, and upheld the injunction.