Hidden Treasure and Bad Faith Leads to Sanctions


Richard Thomas Robol, Esq., who aided in the recovery of treasure from a shipwreck, has been sanctioned by a District Court in Ohio for engaging in bad faith conduct during related litigation. Robol represented Recovery Limited Partnership (“Recovery”), the organization which discovered the wreck of the S.S. Central America, and recovered vast amounts of gold from it.

Through many years of litigation, Robol misrepresented himself to the Court, and apparently aided defendants by concealing gold-sale inventories, which the Court had Ordered his clients to produce. On June 10, 2016, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s ruling, which had imposed sanctions on Robol in the sum of $224,580.

Dispatch Printing Company (“Dispatch”) initially filed the action in 2000, seeking an accounting of the gold recovered from the wreck. Following commencement of the action, the District Court had issued multiple Orders, directing Recovery to produce its financial records from the year 2000. Recovery produced only one inventory from sales to a California gold company in 2000, and claimed it had no other inventories in its possession. Robol repeatedly represented to the Court that there were no other records. More Contempt Orders followed.

Finally, in 2013, the Court appointed a receiver who subsequently recovered 36 cabinets, which had been stored in the basement of a property owned by Robol and leased to the defendants. The file cabinets contained thousands of pages of treasure inventories never previously produced.

Following the discovery, Dispatch sought sanctions against Robol. The District Court entered an Order, finding that Robol had acted in bad faith, and had intentionally hampered the enforcement of a Court Order.

Robol attempted to argue in his appeal that he was unaware that Recovery had the inventories in its possession. Robol claimed that, even though Recovery had stored the inventories in a building shared with his law office, the documents were in a separate space beyond his control and that he could not access the area without permission. Robol thus claimed he had relied on his client’s statement, which he believed to be true. The lower Court rejected his testimony.

Dispatch had requested sanctions of $1,717,388, representing the total cost of its litigation expense. The lower Court limited the sanction to the cost of filing Motions and locating the inventories, awarding $224,580. The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s decision as to the sanction and the amount.


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