Marex Titanic, Inc. v. Wrecked and Abandoned Vessel
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
2 F.3d 544 (1993)
The RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912. Remains of the wreck were found by a French/American expedition in 1985. In 1987, American corporation Titanic Ventures and a French governmental organization, The Institute of France for the Research and Exploration of the Sea, conducted a joint salvage expedition in which they recovered 1,800 artifacts. Others visited the wreck for scientific and photographic purposes. In August 1992, Marex Titanic, Inc. (Marex) (plaintiff) filed an action in a federal district court to be given exclusive salvage rights to, or ownership of salvaged property from, the Titanic. To establish jurisdiction, Ralph White of Marex provided the court with two objects from the wreck. White was later alleged to have pilfered the objects while working on a filming expedition of the site. The court issued a warrant of arrest, which it required Marex to publish within 10 days. Marex did not publish notice of the arrest until over a month later, at which point its ship had begun sailing for the wreck site. That day, Titanic Ventures entered a special appearance to request that the warrant of arrest be vacated on account of Marex’s false representations and in deference to France’s prior exercise of jurisdiction. Days later, Titanic Ventures moved for a preliminary injunction against Marex’s salvaging operations. The court began hearings and issued a temporary restraining order against Marex that same day. After three days of hearings, Marex filed a notice of voluntary dismissal pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 41(a)(1)(i) [now 41(a)(1)(A)(i), which will be referred to hereinafter]. The court vacated the notice of dismissal, relying on the Second Circuit decision Harvey Aluminum, Inc. v. American Cyanamid Co., 203 F.2d 105 (1953), which provided that a plaintiff’s voluntary dismissal could be denied if it was sought after the court had considered substantial argument and evidence by the parties on the merits. Titanic Ventures moved to intervene and requested that it be deemed the exclusive salvor of the Titanic. The court granted intervention, vacated Marex’s warrant, and permanently enjoined Marex from conducting any salvage of the Titanic. Marex appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Hall, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 170,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 13,800 briefs, keyed to 187 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.