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March 8, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC, March 8, 2013 — By Royal Decree of King Juan Carlos I of Spain, Covington & Burling’s Jim Goold has been honored with the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit for distinguished and excellent service for efforts resulting in the repatriation to Spain of a long-lost sunken Spanish warship and its contents, which included 17 tons of silver and gold coins.
Mr. Goold prevailed as counsel for Spain in the legal battle to force an American treasure hunting company to return the cargo and remains of the 19th Century Spanish warship named Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes.
The Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes was sailing to Spain on October 5, 1804, when it was intercepted by a British squadron intent on capturing the ship under orders from the King of England. A battle began and within minutes, the ship exploded, killing nearly everyone on board and sinking the ship and its cargo.
The lengthy legal proceedings involved thousands of 18th and 19th century historical records from Spanish and British archives, affidavits, historians, archaeologists and numismatists, photographs from the underwater site and examinations of artifacts. On behalf of Spain, Covington contended that the Mercedes, as it is commonly called, was a warship of the Royal Navy of Spain and therefore protected by sovereign immunity, and its cargo taken by an American treasure hunting company must be returned to Spain.
The medal and sash were presented to Mr. Goold at a ceremony at the residence of Spanish Ambassador Ramón Gil-Casares. “I am deeply honored and gratified,” Mr. Goold said. “For a litigator such as me, winning a case is a reward in itself. To receive an honor such as this, on top of the victory in court, is all the more special.”
Based in the firm’s Washington office, Mr. Goold specializes in domestic and international litigation, arbitration, and regulatory matters, including U.S. and international product liability litigation and related counseling and regulatory/legislative projects; litigation and related proceedings for European governments on matters involving energy policy, shareholder and investment protection, admiralty and cultural preservation disputes, and insurance coverage arbitrations.
For previous work defending Spanish patrimony from treasure hunters in 1999, Mr. Goold was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Isabella Cattolica, which recognizes distinguished achievements in the service of Spain in the Americas.