OCEAN CITY — After roughly 10 months of legal wrangling and a nine-day trial in May, a federal judge on Wednesday ruled the winner of the white marlin division in the White Marlin Open was not entitled to the record $2.8 million payout after opining the angler, captain and crew were indeed deceptive on post-tournament polygraph exams.
Last August, tournament officials discovered a potential rules violation that would ultimately disqualify the winner in the white marlin division, a 76.5-pounder caught by angler Phillip Heasley on the Kallianassa out of Naples, Fla. Heasley’s 76.5-pound white marlin was awarded a tournament-record $2.8 million in prize money because the Kallianassa was entered across the board in all added entry levels and the fact it was lone qualifier.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Bennett ruled Heasley and the Kallianassa should be disqualified because of the apparent deception on the required polygraph exams.
“Ultimately, this Court concludes that Mr. Heasley’s arguments are without merit,” the judge’s opinion reads. “The White Marlin Open complied with its obligations and did not breach the Tournament Rules contract as a matter of law. Consequently, Mr. Heasley’s performance under that contract was not excused. By failing to satisfy the Tournament Rules’ polygraph requirement, Heasley himself failed to perform under the contract and is not entitled to the prize money.”