After a two-week trial in United States District Court for the District of Maryland, the Honorable Richard D. Bennett has ruled that the White Marlin Open properly applied the rules of the tournament to the 2016 White Marlin Open. Philip Heasley, one of the anglers in the 2016 Tournament, and his crew members aboard the Kallianassa, had not passed polygraph examinations, which were required under the rules of the tournament. The Court also found that Mr. Heasley and the crew of the Kallianassa violated the Tournament Rules by deploying fishing lines before 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, August 9, 2016, the date they caught the 76.5 pound white marlin.
As a result of the polygraph examination results, White Marlin Open did not pay the prize money of Two Million Eight Hundred Eighteen Thousand Dollars ($2,818, 000.00) to Mr. Heasley. Instead, to protect the integrity of the tournament and to act in fairness to all participants, White Marlin Open filed an interpleader action in court and asked the Court to determine whether the White Marlin Open directors had acted appropriately in withholding the money from Mr. Heasley.
In a two-week trial, White Marlin Open put on evidence of the appropriateness of the polygraph examinations, and the reasonableness of its actions in withholding the prize money under the tournament rules. The court verified that White Marlin Open, Inc., had applied its rules in a fair manner, had the authority to impose the polygraph upon its participants as a way to verify that rules of the tournament were not violated by the winning anglers.
Throughout the case, the intention of the White Marlin Open directors has been to protect the integrity of the tournament and to ensure that the rules are applied fairly for all participants. The White Marlin Open, like many other tournaments, has found that the use of polygraphs is an effective method of ensuring compliance with the rules. The White Marlin Open is pleased that its reputation for integrity, built over its forty-three-year history, has been upheld.
As the 2017 tournament approaches, the tournament directors are determined to continue the fair and impartial application of the tournament rules so that all participants have confidence in the results of the tournament. The tournament directors are committed to maintaining the tournament as an open and enjoyable experience for all anglers, whether professional or amateur, who participate in this world recognized event.