United States District Court, D. Maryland
Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge
Mark Hutchison (“Hutchison”) and Richard Kosztyu
“plaintiffs”) have filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment (“Plaintiffs' Motion”) in this
interpleader action based on defendant Philip Heasley's
(“Heasley”) alleged failure to pass a polygraph
examination under the 2016 White Marlin Open Tournament Rules
(the “Tournament Rules”). (ECF No. 97.) Plaintiffs
argue that because Heasley failed to pass a polygraph
examination, he “is unable to satisfy his burden of
proof in order to recover the prize money…” (ECF
No. 97-1 at 2.) Thus, plaintiffs assert, the prize money
should be distributed among the other winning anglers in the
manner set forth in the Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 87.) The
parties' submissions have been reviewed, and no hearing
is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6. (D. Md.
2016.) For the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs' Motion
(ECF No. 97) is DENIED. This case shall proceed to a bench
trial beginning on May 22, 2017.
relevant factual background is set forth in this Court's
Memorandum Opinion dated February 3, 2017 (ECF No. 70) and
subsequent Memorandum Orders dated March 29, 2017 (ECF No.
94) and April 14, 2017 (ECF No. 99). These Memoranda are
incorporated herein by reference.
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a court
“shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A material fact is one that “might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing
law.” Libertarian Party of Va. v. Judd, 718
F.3d 308, 313 (4th Cir. 2013) (quoting Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A
genuine issue over a material fact exists “if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson,
477 U.S. at 248. When considering a motion for summary
judgment, a judge's function is limited to determining
whether sufficient evidence exists on a claimed factual
dispute to warrant submission of the matter to a jury for
resolution at trial. Id. at 249.
undertaking this inquiry, this Court must consider the facts
and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to
the nonmoving party. Libertarian Party of Va., 718
F.3d at 312; see also Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372,
378 (2007). This Court “must not weigh evidence or make
credibility determinations.” Foster v. University
of Md.-Eastern Shore, 787 F.3d 243, 248 (4th Cir. 2015)
(citing Mercantile Peninsula Bank v. French, 499
F.3d 345, 352 (4th Cir. 2007)); see also Jacobs v. N.C.
Administrative Office of the Courts, 780 F.3d 562, 569
(4th Cir. 2015) (explaining that the trial court may not make
credibility determinations at the summary judgment stage).
Indeed, it is the function of the fact-finder to resolve
factual disputes, including issues of witness credibility.
See Tolan v. Cotton, 134 S.Ct. 1861, 1866-68 (2014).
undisputed that the 2016 White Marlin Open Tournament Rules
created a contract between plaintiff White Marlin Open
(“WMO”) and the tournament participants,
including defendant Heasley and the other
“angler” plaintiffs. (ECF No. 100 at 25; ECF No.
97-1 at 10.) See generally Schmidt v. Three Lakes Chamber
of Commerce, 142 Wis.2d 936, 417 N.W.2d 196 (Wisc. Ct.
App. 1987) (fishing tournament entry form and rules
constitute enforceable contract among the parties). The
Tournament Rules provide, in pertinent part, that:
“7. All anglers winning $50, 000 or more…may be
required, at the discretion of the White Marlin Open, to take
and pass, at the determination of the test administrator, a
polygraph test prior to the distribution of any awards.
7a. The White Marlin Open may, at its discretion, also
request that a polygraph test be taken by any other angler or
crew member registered to that boat.
7b. The time and place of the polygraph testing will be
announced at the Captain's meeting and listed on the
Tournament Information Sheet which is distributed with the
7c. in the event that a test cannot be taken at a scheduled
time, tournament officials reserve the right to reschedule
the test with in [sic] 30 days of the date on which
the fish was caught. The rescheduled test must be
administered by a White Marlin Open approved examiner
administered to ASTM standards and will be at the
7d. If an angler wishes to dispute an unfavorable polygraph
result, the angler may have a second polygraph conducted with
in [sic] 10 days by a qualified polygraph examiner
at the angler's expense. This polygraph must be
administered to ASTM standards. The decision as to which of
the two polygraph tests will be used to determine prize money