The wait is on for an opinion by the state’s highest court in a legal dispute stemming from the 2010 Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament.
The N.C. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in the case involving the 2010 disqualification of a record catch by the team aboard the Citation. The Citation weighed in an 883-pound blue marlin on the opening day of the tournament, and it appeared the team was on the way to tournament record books and a prize of more than $900,000 when the tournament announced its decision.
The disqualification stripped the team of both, and the courts have thus far upheld the tournament’s decision.
Andy W. Gay, attorney for the owners of the Hatteras-based Citation, has led the efforts on their behalf to overturn the decision. He confirmed that the case was heard as scheduled by the Supreme Court, but Gay said he doesn’t expect a decision until spring or summer.
The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament’s action against Citation has centered around an alleged rule violation involving fishing license requirements for one of the mates working on the boat when the marlin was caught.
The Citation owners filed a lawsuit claiming breach of contract.
The N.C. Court of Appeals filed an opinion in June 2012, days before the last tournament, that upheld the decisions of the trial court in support of the Big Rock. However, a dissenting opinion, in part, by one of the judges gave the Citation the automatic right to appeal the case to the N.C. Supreme Court.
The dissent by Appeals Court Judge Robert C. Hunter involved a summary judgment and a recusal motion in the cause. A summary judgment allows for judgment in a case without a trial when there is no dispute over material facts of the case.
The attorney for the Citation, Gay, has argued there are questions that remain in the case; and he also said the local judge who heard the case should have recused himself since his former law partner represented the defendants.
While the legal dispute has been under way, the prize money has been held in trust until the case is resolved.
With the Citation’s disqualification, the 2010 Carnivore team is currently entitled to first place winnings and the boat Wet-N-Wild to second place. Carnivore angler John Parks of Jacksonville reeled in a 528.3-pound marlin during the 2010 tournament.