MOREHEAD CITY — A settlement has been reached in a three-year-old legal dispute involving the Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament.
Tournament President Casey Wagner confirmed the settlement as did attorneys representing parties on each side of the case.
Comment on the settlement, which is confidential, has been limited to a statement released on behalf of all parties.
“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 statement reads.
The statement was submitted by E. Bradley Evans of the firm Ward and Smith in Greenville, attorney for the tournament.
No further information is included in the release, leaving it unclear what the settlement means as far as the final 2010 standings and the award of the first-place prize of $900,000.
Jacksonville angler John Parks with the 2010 Carnivore team reeled in a 528.3-pound marlin. With the disqualification of the Citation, the tournament asked the court to confirm the disqualification and to confirm the Carnivore as winner.
The legal dispute began after the disqualification during the 2010 tournament of the Hatteras-based boat Citation, putting a record catch and prize money in limbo.
The crew aboard the Citation weighed in the mammoth 883-pound blue marlin to take the lead in the 2010 tournament on opening day of fishing and was in position to take the top prize when the tournament announced the disqualification.
The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament’s action against the Citation centered on alleged rules violation involving fishing license requirements for one of the mate’s working on the boat when the marlin was caught.
The Citation owners challenged the disqualification and the appeals process took the case all the way to the state’s highest court.
The Supreme Court agreed with the dissenting opinion of the Court of Appeals and remanded the case back to the appeals court to remand back to the Superior Court.
The N.C. Court of Appeals filed an opinion in June 2012, just days before last year’s tournament that upheld the decision of the trial court in support of the Big Rock. However, a dissenting opinion, in part, by one 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 questioned the summary judgment made in Carteret County Superior Court.
A summary judgment allows for judgment in a case without a trial when there is no dispute over material facts of the case.
With the case remanded back to Superior Court, the case appeared to be headed to trial. The settlement was reached before a trial date was put on the calendar.