Gintis et al. v. Bouchard Transportation Co. Inc. et al.

This environmental pollution case was brought on behalf of a Class of all persons owning waterfront property or deeded rights to waterfront property along Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, that was oiled by the Bouchard Oil Spill on April 27, 2003.  The case was filed in April 2006, strenuously litigated (including a successful appeal by plaintiffs overturning the district court’s denial of class certification), and ultimately approved for settlement after a final fairness hearing by the federal district court in Boston, Massachusetts, on November 4, 2010.  Under the settlement, Defendants – Bouchard Transportation Co., Tug Evening Tide Corp., and B. No. 120 Corp. – agreed to make a payment totaling $11.45 million to the Class (for damages, settlement administration costs, attorneys’ fees and expenses) for which Defendants received a general release.  As of December 31, 2011, all claims had been paid to Class Members who filed valid claims, with the balance of unclaimed funds ($2,887.09) having been paid to the Court-approved cy pres designee Buzzards Bay Coalition (based in New Bedford, MA).

Under the Settlement, each Class Member who filed a valid Claim Form by the October 25, 2010 deadline was entitled to receive a pro rata share of a Net Settlement Fund (after fees and expenses). Class Members' pro rata share of the Net Settlement Fund was based on the following considerations only: (1) their status (property owner versus owner of deeded rights); (2) the assessed value of their property; (3) a common Spill area duration of five months; and (4) the degree of oiling ("Oiling Designation") (either trace to light, moderate or heavy) as set forth on the Spill clean-up maps.

The Parties litigated the case from the filing of the Complaint in April of 2006 to July 9, 2010, when they reached the Settlement.  Defendants denied any liability in this case since the inception of the lawsuit.

To be a Class Member covered by the Settlement: 1) you must have owned on April 27, 2003 waterfront property located in Buzzards Bay, MA, that was oiled by the Spill; and/or 2) you must have owned on April 27, 2003 deeded rights to waterfront property located in Buzzards Bay, MA, that was oiled by the Spill.  Excluded from the Class are owners of property (including deeded rights) in the Town of Mattapoisett, governmental entities and Defendants. The Class definition covers damage to real property only (namely land with or without houses), and does not include property such as boats, vehicles or lost business income.

On August 3, 2010, the Court had granted preliminary approval for the Settlement and pursuant to its preliminary approval order, on August 20, 2010, the Court-appointed Settlement Administrator mailed a Class Notice describing the proposed Settlement to Class Members, and twice published notice of the Settlement in seven area newspapers.  The Administrator also set up the settlement website containing information about the settlement and dedicated toll-free phone lines (since discontinued).  The Administrator also handled all claims following final approval of the settlement by the Court.