A Manassas, Va.-based solo practitioner is representing an underwater salvage company in a $17 billion federal lawsuit against the Republic of Colombia, alleging that the South American nation has illegally blocked its efforts to recover 300-year-old sunken treasure. The suit in Washington stems from a decades-long legal battle over the treasure that has already reached the Supreme Court of Colombia.

Sea Search Armada argues in its Dec. 7 complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, that the Colombian government conspired against the company to come up with legal theories designed to back out of an agreement that allowed Sea Search to explore and recover coins and bullion from the Spanish galleon San Jose. The San Jose was sunk by the British Navy on June 8, 1708, during a naval battle off the coast of Colombia.