Ocean City’s White Marlin Open didn’t pass without a measure of controversy itself, last year’s tournament results were still working their way through the appeals system.
In June, District Judge Richard Bennett ruled in favor of the White Marlin Open in the ongoing lawsuit between the tournament and last year’s presumed winner of more than $2.8 million in prize money, finding the tournament complied with its obligations and the angler, Philip Heasley, failed to satisfy tournament rules.
This order made no determination on what would happen to the prize money, which would come later.
According to tournament rules, all anglers winning more than $50,000 in prize money, as well as any crewmember registered to the vessel where the winning fish was landed, may be required to take and pass a polygraph test. The polygraph provision of the rules has been in place since at least 2004.
Heasley landed a 76.5-pound white marlin for what appeared to be the winning catch last year, but he and three other people were required to take the test. Three passed, but Heasley did not, according to court documents.
The tournament then allowed Heasley and the crew to take additional polygraph tests to qualify for the prize money, which resulted in the same determination.
The tournament ruled to withhold the prize money and Heasley sued.
“Ultimately, this court concludes that Mr. Heasley’s arguments are without merit,” the judge declared.