The judge presiding over a legal row surrounding a cache of emeralds put the brakes on a Mel Fisher company's move to walk away from their claim to the gems until they explain why they want the gemstones' finder to pay their legal fees.
U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King denied a motion by Motivation Inc., the Fisher family's treasure salvaging firm, to dismiss its claim to the emeralds because he wants to hear why they think the emeralds' finder, Jay Miscovich, ought to pay their legal fees, according to federal court documents.
King wants to resolve that issue first before he determines whether to grant Motivation' motion to walk away from what has become a protracted legal battle over the controversial emeralds.
King issued the order from Miami on Tuesday, and Motivation is expected to file paperwork early this week further explaining why they think JTR Enterprises and its founder, Miscovich, should pay Motivation's legal fees.
JTR Enterprises' attorneys will then have time to file a response before King schedules a hearing, which probably won't occur until September, said Motivation attorney Gene Lewis.
Court documents indicate that Motivation wants King to force JTR Enterprises to pay their legal fees because they allegedly stalled for months when Motivation sought to see the emeralds and evaluate them.
JTR Enterprises has denied that and argued that they were only following King's orders as per when the emeralds should be viewed.
Kings' denial comes days after Duval Street-based Emeralds International owner Manuel Marcial De Gomar examined the emeralds and determined they were worth about $50,000 and didn't come from the Spanish galleons Nuestra Senora de Atocha and the Santa Margarita, both wrecks which the Fisher company has claimed.
Previous court records from Delaware indicate the gems were once thought to be worth as much as $500 million.
When the Fisher company found that the gems did not come from their wrecks, they immediately filed paperwork to dismiss their claim. JTR Enterprises attorney Bruce Silverstein said that they are seeking their own experts to evaluate the emeralds. He declined to comment on the order, Friday.