DC Circuit Affirms Dismissal of $17 Billion Claim Against Arnold & Porter Client, Republic of Colombia

April 23, 2013

Washington, D.C., April 23, 2013 -- Just two weeks after oral argument, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed on April 8, 2013, a district court's complete dismissal of a $17 billion lawsuit against the Republic of Colombia over salvage rights to a sunken treasure ship. The Circuit Court opinion upholds dismissal of Sea Search Armada's claims for breach of contract, conversion, and recognition of a foreign judgment. The appellate court agreed that Sea Search Armada's suit was barred by the statute of limitations, and that a previous decision by Colombia's Supreme Court could not be enforced under the District of Columbia's foreign-judgment recognition law.

The D.C. Circuit's decision is the latest development in a saga involving the famous galleon San José, a Spanish warship laden with gold and other precious metals that sank off the coast of Colombia in 1708. Arnold & Porter regularly represents sovereigns and multinational corporations in U.S. court proceedings and international arbitrations on significant issues arising under international and U.S. law. These include ATS and Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act suits, and cases raising complex issues in the international sphere such as the presumption against extraterritoriality, personal jurisdiction, the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, competing litigations in different countries, and execution of U.S. or foreign judgments against sovereign debt.

In Sea Search Armada, the Republic was defended by Arnold & Porter attorneys Paolo Di Rosa, Ramon Marks, Stewart Aaron, Sam Witten, Reeves Anderson, José Antonio Rivas, and Margarita Sánchez. Mr. Di Rosa successfully argued the case on behalf of the Republic in the D.C. Circuit. The appellate case is cited as Sea Search Armada v. Republic of Colombia, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, No. 11-7144, April 8, 2013.


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