January 14, 2013
Case for Nearly $1 Million Tournament Prize Money Moves to Supreme Court
By Chad Love
It's not often that fishing tournament spats end up before a state supreme court. But then again, most fishing tournament spats don't have close to a million bucks on the line.
From this story on charlotteobserver.com:
A fishing crew from 2010’s Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament is still trying to reel in the one that got away – not the 883-pound marlin they hooked, but the $910,000 prize for the biggest catch. On Tuesday, the state Supreme Court is scheduled to take up a case that has moved from the fish scales of Morehead City to the scales of justice in Raleigh. Michael Topp, Duncan Thomasson, Martin Kooyman and Black Pearl Enterprises contend they were wrongfully disqualified from the 2010 tournament and are owed nearly $1 million in prize money for their scale-tipping marlin. But Big Rock officials say the crew broke tournament rules.
According to the story, the dispute centers around whether the boat's first mate had the correct type of fishing license at the time the tournament-winning fish was caught. Tournament rules dicated that all boats were required to have a "highly migratory species fishing permit" plus anyone who participated in the fishing also had to have an individual recreational fishing license. The boat's first mate, according to the story, didn't have one, so he purchased his recreational license via laptop on the way back into the weigh-in. Since he helped land the fish, Wann was subsequently fined for fishing without a license, which carried a $35 fine and $125 in court costs. That, in turn, led the tournament to disqualify the team and award the prize to the second-place boat.
Lawsuits, counter-lawsuits, accusations and counter-accusations ensued. And here they are, some three years later, pleading their case to the North Carolina Supreme Court. All over a fish. Thoughts? Reaction?