By Benjamin Gohs
It’s got all the elements of a flashy Hollywood action flick — French dignitaries, deep-sea archeology, sabotage, a 330-year-old ship and a U.S. Federal Marshall — and it also has all the paperwork of an IRS audit.
The latest chapter in the saga of 17th century French ship Le Griffon hunter and head of Great Lakes Exploration Group (GLEG) Stephen Libert finds Libert still battling with the state of Michigan over possession of what may or may not be the ship’s remnants.
“The facts are straightforward,” stated the State of Michigan in documents it filed on Dec. 23, 2008, in Western District, Northern Division of Michigan’s United States District Court. “GLEG asserts that it has discovered a shipwreck in Lake Michigan. GLEG alleges that the wreck is the Griffin (sic). GLEG seeks to be declared the owner and/or salvor of the defendant shipwreck.”
In the pleading for a dismissal of the case, the state asserted, among several claims, that it has immunity through the 11th Amendment — which basically states that a citizen cannot sue a state — and further stated that, not only did no one make claim to the alleged ship when the State of Michigan noticed it in two newspapers, but a state diving expedition revealed no ship.