Blackbeard's ship case about images returns to trial court

Legal Issues

A treasure hunter who accuses the state of North Carolina of misusing his images from Blackbeard's flagship says he'll ask for 10 times the damages he originally sought, now that a court ruling has come down in his favor.

John Masters of Florida-based Intersal Inc. says he plans to seek $140 million in damages from the state following the ruling Friday from the North Carolina Supreme Court that the case must return to Business Court. He said an expert witness had put Intersal's losses from the state's use of more than 2,000 images and more than 200 minutes of film at $129 million. He's seeking another $11 million for losses over a permit that the state denied him, which would have allowed Intersal to search for a Spanish ship.

Almost a quarter-century ago, Masters' father, Philip, discovered the wreckage of the Queen Anne's Revenge, which ran aground in Beaufort, in what was then the colony of North Carolina, in June 1718. Volunteers with the Royal Navy killed Blackbeard in Ocracoke Inlet that same year.

Intersal found little loot when it located the shipwreck in 1996, but tens of thousands of artifacts have been recovered since then. Intersal and the state have reached two contracts, one in 1998 and another in 2013, that gave the company the rights to photos and videos of the wreck and of the recovery, study and preservation of its historic artifacts.

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