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January 09, 2013

Disqualified Tournament Winners’ Suit for $910,000 Goes to State Supreme Court

A Team in the 2010 Big Rock That Thought It Had Won the Event with an 883-Pound Blue Marlin Was Disqualified for a Rules Violation. Their Suit to Reclaim the Near-Million-Dollar Prize Has Gone to the State Supreme Court.

A team of anglers who caught the biggest marlin — an 883-pound blue — in the June 2010 Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament out of Morehead City, North Carolina, thought they had won nearly a million dollars for their efforts.

That produced one set of headlines. The next set came shortly after when it was determined that one of the crew did not have a current state coastal recreational fishing license onboard on June 4, 2010, when the catch was made, and that disqualified it per explicit tournament rules (also per the reminder to participants at the captain’s meeting).

The group filed suit against tournament officials for breach of contract, according to a UPI report January 8, seeking the $910,000 prize that had been denied it.

A lower court ruled in favor of tournament officials. An appellate judge, however, disagreed. It was the judge’s contention that failing to have that license did not somehow give the team a competitive advantage and did not warrant the catch’s disqualification.

However, “the fact that one judge recused himself during the appeal allowed the case to move to the [North Carolina] Supreme Court,” Big Rock director Crystal Hesmer tells Sport Fishing, where the matter now sits.