May 29, 2013

UPDATE: Settlement in Big Rock Tournament
case leaves questions unanswered

BY CATHERINE KOZAK


It was a juicy saga that began in June 2010 and spurred a frenzy of worldwide publicity.

A mate on the charter boat Citation, based out of Hatteras, forgot to buy his $15 fishing license. In a crazy twist, that oversight ends up creating a technicality that disqualifies the boat of more than $1 million in prize money awarded for the largest fish ever caught in the Big Rock Tournament, a big-money billfishing tournament based in Morehead City, N.C.

The owners of the Citation filed a lawsuit against the Big Rock Tournament, and the case made its way through the North Carolina Court system.

After the Citiation’s owners lost several lower court decisions, in January the state Supreme Court reversed a state Court of Appeals ruling that had sided with the tournament board’s disqualification. The Supreme Court had questioned whether a violation had been proven, and sent the case back to state Superior Court in Carteret County to be heard in a jury trial.

It was expected to be tried this fall.

But in the wake of the tabloid-like story of good luck gone astoundingly bad and the efforts for redemption, the public may never learn the fate of the prize money.

As the three-year anniversary of that fateful tournament approaches this June, a settlement between parties has been announced in a cryptic press release issued this week:

"The parties involved in the Big Rock lawsuit have reached a mutually satisfactory resolution of all matters in dispute between them. Had the 883-pound fish caught by the vessel Citation not been disqualified, it would have been the largest fish weighed in the history of the Big Rock tournament. The parties are pleased that they were able to resolve their differences honorably and amicably. By agreement, the parties will have no further comment on the matter."

The Hatteras-based Citation had been awarded $912,825 in the Blue Marlin Division and $318,750 in the Fabulous Fishermen’s Level for hooking the marlin.

Because of the Citation’s disqualification, the Big Rock Board of Directors declared the second-place boat, Carnivore, the tournament winner with its 528.3 pound blue marlin, caught by angler John Parks.  The board awarded a $999,543 first-prize to the Carnivore.

Later, a judge had earlier ordered the prize money to be held in a trust account until the issue was resolved.

Who gets the prize money is unclear because no further details about the settlement are available.

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