Persons who owned uninhabited land and/or certain businesses near
the Bayou Corne sinkhole may be affected
by a proposed class action settlement.
A settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit about the Bayou Corne sinkhole in the Bayou Corne/Grand Bayou area of Assumption Parish, Louisiana. A settlement fund has been created to pay amounts to holders of valid claims as well as lawyers’ fees and costs approved by the Court. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana will have a hearing to decide whether to give final approval to the settlement so that payments can be made from the settlement fund. Those included in the class action, together called a “Class,” may ask for a payment, or may exclude themselves from, or object to, the settlement, and eligible Class Members may receive a payment from it. There is a detailed notice with more information about the settlement available by calling 1-504-581-9065 or going to the website listed below.
Generally, you may be a Class Member if, on or about August 3, 2012, you either: (a) owned uninhabited land situated within a two-mile radius of the Center of the Sinkhole, or (b) owned one of a list of businesses that operated within a two-mile radius of the sinkhole. More information, including the list of businesses, is provided on the website.
Certain persons are specifically not included in the Class. The exact Class “definition” and more information on the settlement are available at www.sinkholelandclass.com.
WHAT DOES THE SETTLEMENT PROVIDE?
A $10 million settlement fund has been established by two of the parties in the case, Occidental and Vulcan, to be overseen by an independent “Administrator.” A Settlement Agreement, available at the website and in the official court records of these proceedings, describes all of the details about the proposed settlement. The settlement does not mean that Occidental and Vulcan did anything wrong–and the Court did not decide Occidental and Vulcan did–but Occidental and Vulcan agreed to resolve the case and provide benefits to the Class.
Texas Brine Company is not a party to this settlement. This Class Action settlement does not dismiss the Class claims against Texas Brine Company. More information regarding Class claims against Texas Brine Company is available at the website.
HOW MUCH COULD YOU GET?
If the settlement receives final Court approval, the Administrator will review claims and propose how much money each valid claim will receive based on a formula he will recommend to the Court. The amount of each payment will be based, in part, on the total number of claims received and on the extent of damages suffered. If you timely submit a valid claim, the Administrator will send you a letter to tell you the proposed amount, if any, you are to receive. In this letter, the Administrator will also tell you what else you may need to do in order to receive a payment and how to object if you do not like your proposed payment.
HOW DO YOU ASK FOR A PAYMENT?
Class members can submit their claims via United States mail, postage prepaid, to Bayou Corne Land Class Claims, P.O. Box 1239, Gonzales, La 70737-1239. All claims must be postmarked on or before May 31, 2018. The Administrator has proposed exactly what you will need to provide to prove your claim and receive a payment. Thus, you must use the proof of claim form prepared by the Administrator in order to file a valid claim. You may obtain the approved proof of claim form by calling 1-504-581-9065 or going to www.sinkholelandclass.com.
WHAT ARE YOUR OTHER OPTIONS?
The Court will hold a hearing in this case, called “Lisa T. Leblanc, et al. v. Texas Brine Company, LLC, et al.,” C.A. No. 12-2059-JCZ-MBN, on May 9, 2018 at 9:30 to consider whether to approve the settlement; to consider any objections to the settlement; and to consider whether to approve Class Counsel’s request for (a) attorneys’ fees in an amount not to exceed 33 1/3% of the settlement fund, and (b) litigation costs not to exceed $250,000. You or your own lawyer may appear and ask to speak at the hearing, at your own cost, but you don’t have to. If the settlement is approved, it will release Occidental and Vulcan and certain others from all liability for the claims more fully described in the Settlement Agreement.
If you don’t want to be legally bound by the settlement, you must exclude yourself by April 16, 2018. If you are a Class Member and don’t exclude yourself, you won’t be able to sue, or continue to sue, Occidental or Vulcan about the claims resolved in this settlement. If you exclude yourself, you can’t get a payment from the settlement fund. If you are a Class Member and do not exclude yourself, you may object to the settlement, if you do so by April 16, 2018 and follow the instructions on the website. The detailed notice posted on the website explains how to exclude yourself or object. To learn more or to obtain the detailed notice, call, go to the website, or write to Class Counsel at 338 Lafayette Street, New Orleans, LA 70130.