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Author Topic: Who owns the Electra Today ?  (Read 31066 times)

Colin Philip Cobb

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Who owns the Electra Today ?
« on: June 11, 2012, 07:57:19 PM »

I've always wanted to ask this question.
Who owns the plane? Is it classed as a wreck "derelict" were like Titanic you can claim salvor in possession with coordinates and a piece of debris in court.
If found in Kiribati who owns it? If found off howland who owns it?
Is the salvor the owner or is his hard work for nothing ?

Regards

Colin Cobb
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Who owns the Electra Today ?
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2012, 08:57:42 PM »

I've always wanted to ask this question.
Who owns the plane? Is it classed as a wreck "derelict" were like Titanic you can claim salvor in possession with coordinates and a piece of debris in court.
If found in Kiribati who owns it? If found off howland who owns it?
Is the salvor the owner or is his hard work for nothing ?

Regards

Colin Cobb

I suspect that the insurance company has legal title to the plane.

gl
« Last Edit: June 11, 2012, 09:34:45 PM by Martin X. Moleski, SJ »
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: Who owns the Electra Today ?
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2012, 09:12:52 PM »

Good question Colin. Glad you got home ok.

I would think that the Kiribati Government may be the legal owner. Ric signed a deal to protect whatever is found.  As this was signed with the government I would think Ric has a better handle on legal ownership.
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
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Tom Bryant

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Re: Who owns the Electra Today ?
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2012, 09:26:04 PM »

I expect that here would be a lot of back and forth on that and hope that Tighar will not be shoved aside. The "good job guys now stand back and let professionals take over thing."
Most irritating but does happen as those same experts will stand around poo pooing an idea until they are confronted with the discovery. Then its a complete reversal and a rush to grab the spotlight. I would hope that the good work done by Tighar to this point would help hold the high ground on it. 
"Well... it seemed like a good idea at the time"
 
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Who owns the Electra Today ?
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2012, 12:45:38 AM »

I expect that here would be a lot of back and forth on that and hope that Tighar will not be shoved aside. The "good job guys now stand back and let professionals take over thing."
Most irritating but does happen as those same experts will stand around poo pooing an idea until they are confronted with the discovery. Then its a complete reversal and a rush to grab the spotlight. I would hope that the good work done by Tighar to this point would help hold the high ground on it.
Tell you what, I've dealt with lots of aircraft wreckage and it is owned by the insurance company that paid the claim for the loss. The settlement documents include transferring ownership of the wreckage to the insurance company in exchange for the payment of the claim. Just because the wreckage in missing doesn't change this nor does passage of time extinguish the ownership interest. A recent example of this, Spain obtained billions of dollars worth of gold and other treasure that had been salved from a sunken ship that went down three hundred years ago, Spain claimed ownership of the lost ship. The U.S. Federal Court awarded the treasure to Spain even though they played no part in recovering the treasure.

It will be interesting to see what happens if the plane is ever found, it might be quite valuable and Ric should have paid he legal owner, the insurance company, for at least some rights in the wreckage if he finds it. Since Ric used to be an aircraft claims adjuster I suspect he is on top of this issue.

gl
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Colin Philip Cobb

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Re: Who owns the Electra Today ?
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2012, 01:23:38 AM »

If Electra is found off Howland , then that's in American waters and not Kiribati.
Who insured the Electra?
My point is ,that other search companies should be allowed to claim salvor if they find the Electra. If tighar fails to find Electra but have an ownership of it then it would discourage others from searching.  I just wonder what waitt and nauticos have done to cover themselves about this issue. 

Colin
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Malcolm McKay

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Re: Who owns the Electra Today ?
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2012, 02:20:21 AM »

I suspect that if the insurers, or their successors, of the Electra still exist then it is they who own it. That is the standard rule with insured property. Once an insurer pays out the item insured becomes theirs so if recovered they own it. There was a case several years ago where a ship carrying gold from California sank of the coast of the Carolinas bound for New York IIRC in the early to middle 1850s. At the time the insurance company paid the insured amount, however in the late 1990s IIRC a salvage team found the wreck and recovered the gold only to discover that the legal successors of the insurance company still existed and were entitled to the gold. They reached an agreement with the salvage company but the gold legally belonged to the insurance company.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2012, 04:33:45 AM by Malcolm McKay »
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Tom Bryant

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Re: Who owns the Electra Today ?
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2012, 08:48:50 AM »

I have some experience with salvage and insurance (former commercial diver) as well as dealing with insurance claims on foreign soil (management of exploration and mining company).
My concerns were not so much the insurance value as the "credit for find value" but in this case the back and forths at the insurance and ownership level would still be interesting to watch. I am not thinking that a sovereign nation would be particularly swayed by a decision by a US court so international court and diplomatic wrangling would come into play. I experienced first hand what happens when property gets "nationalized" and options are limited no matter what piece of paper one might have. While we are dealing with a peaceful nation and it would all likely be very civilized I can tell you that if push comes to shove serious men with RPGs and AKs trumps insurance and ownership papers any day. Insurance will generally still pay but the insurance company takes it on the chin and writes it off. Of course that's on average boring mining equipment and not something of historic value. Way more groups and governments who care.
As Gary points out the management has experience and has had lots of time to think about it so I am sure that Tighar will get whats right. Its all arm waving until we find something though and its not till then that many of the potential pains in the butt wake up and try to get their piece.
"Well... it seemed like a good idea at the time"
 
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: Who owns the Electra Today ?
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2012, 04:28:16 PM »

Somewhere along the line, I have the impression that we looked into whether or not the aircraft was insured, and I think we figured out that it was not.  AE had almost everything she had invested in the aircraft and didn't insure it.  She and George had to raise the money to repair it after the first attempt Luke Field Wreck, so it wasn't insured then, and I don't think it was insured during the second attempt.

Sometime in the 80's or 90's, AE's sister "sold" the aircraft to some folks who thought they would salvage it up by Howland, so in theory they might make a claim, but in the end I think that it can be argued that the aircraft was abandoned by the estate and if found in Kiribati waters is the property of the nation of Kiribati.

Or whoever finds it can make a claim.

The deal between TIGHAR and Kiribati is that TIGHAR has the exclusive rights to search for, recover, conserve, display, and take custody of any Earhart related artifacts found in Kiribati waters, so even if someone else makes a claim, they will have to deal with TIGHAR in one way or the other if the aircraft is in Kiribati waters.

It is a problem that only arrives if we find the Electra.  Lets hope we have such a problem.

Andrew
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Monty Fowler

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Re: Who owns the Electra Today ?
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2012, 07:19:02 AM »

Andrew nailed it.

LTM,
Monty Fowler, TIGHAR No. 2189 CER
Ex-TIGHAR member No. 2189 E C R SP, 1998-2016
 
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Colin Philip Cobb

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Re: Who owns the Electra Today ?
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2012, 02:55:17 PM »

Thanks Andrew.

Watch out for claimants popping up all over the place if the plane is found. .
Donald Campbell was killed while attempting to break the water speed record in 1967. His bluebird jet boat lay forgotten at the bottom of the lake 34 years until it was raised by bill smith in 2001.
Much to his daughters horror, when the boat was raised out came Paul Foulkes Halbard of owner The Foulkes-Halbard Collection at Filching Manor in England. He claimed the boat stating Donald Campbell's engineer Leo villa signed it over to him in the 1970's. 
It caused a right stink and after many arguments halbard could not complete the claim as he could not produce the written evidence.
Everyone wants a piece of the action these days.

Thanks Andrew for the help.

Colin
Ps. Andrew can you send me those pictures.  Cheers.
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Anthony Allen Roach

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Re: Who owns the Electra Today ?
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2012, 11:53:26 AM »

The ownership of the Electra is interesting.  I understand what Mr. LaPook states regarding insurance, because the insured and owner of an aircraft usually signs away their salvage rights when a loss is paid.  That's part of the insurance contract, and the deal making when there is a loss.  But if the Electra was not insured, then that throws the insurance issue out the window.

Salvage issues are governed by what is known as Admiralty Law.  I looked in my Admiralty and Maritime Law Hornbook (3rd Edition, Edited by Thomas J. Schoenbaum) and found the following general rules:

1.  A salvor of imperiled property on navigable waters gains a right of compensation from the owner.  In other words, the owner still has a claim, but the person finding and recovering the property has a right of compensation.

2.  For wrecks in the United States, the law applicable to maritime salvage is the general maritime law, which includes treaties and international obligations.  General maritime law is a part of customary international law.

3.  Marine salvage law is primarily concerned with property salvage.  There are other types of salvage, such as life salvage and treasure salvage.

4.  According to the Supreme Court, only maritime property can be the object of an act of salvage.  At first it would seem that an aircraft would be excluded from this, but like so many things in law, there are exceptions.  Aircraft that crash on navigable waters are subject to salvage as well.  I know of one case that involved a seaplane - Lambros Seaplane Base, Inc v. The Batory, 215 F.2d 228 (2nd Cir. 1954).  That case explains that maritime law does not apply if the plane is on land, but applies if it is salvaged, found, or rescued in navigable waters.

It seems to me that the Republic of Kiribati would have some claim, as any wreckage found in their waters would be subject to their claims.  Obviously they would not have any claim if the Electra were located outside of their waters, in what is termed the high seas.

In this light, therefore, it makes sense, that Mr. Gillespie is accompanied by someone representing the Republic of Kiribati.
"Six the Hard Way."
 
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C.W. Herndon

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Re: Who owns the Electra Today ?
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2012, 12:02:05 PM »

Thanks Anthony. I was able to understand every word.  :D
Woody (former 3316R)
"the watcher"
 
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Tom Swearengen

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Re: Who owns the Electra Today ?
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2012, 02:44:10 PM »

Hey Colin-----I didnt think there was alot left of Bluebird to salvage. As I recall it bacame slightly airborne, and then came apart. Seems I have the book somewhere (actually my fathers). He was a huge fan of Sir Malcolm and Donald.
Tom
Tom Swearengen TIGHAR # 3297
 
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Chris Johnson

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Re: Who owns the Electra Today ?
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2012, 05:48:41 AM »

Hi Tom

see link bluebird wreckage.

They also discovered Cambells remains close by via side scan sonar soon after.
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