In Re: Deepwater Horizon, No. 15-30597 (5th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Duwayne Mason appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Seacor, as well as the denial of Mason's motion to be recognized as a plaintiff who opted out of the class action settlement at issue in this case. Seacor owned and operated a vessel that assisted in putting out the fire after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill explosion in the Gulf of Mexico and that subsequently took part in the cleanup efforts. In response to a class action filed against it relating to damages stemming from the Deepwater Horizon incident, Seacor filed a limitation of liability action under 46 U.S.C. 30505. Mason, an employee of Seacor and a member of the crew aboard the vessel, alleged injuries sustained from his firefighting efforts. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in failing to determine that Mason had opted out of the class action settlement through informal means. Even assuming arguendo that a reasonable indication of a desire to opt out would suffice, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that Mason’s conduct did not reasonably indicate a desire to opt out of the Medical Benefits Settlement Class. Further, the court rejected Mason's argument that the notice of the Agreement was constitutionally deficient in both delivery and content where Mason had actual notice through his counsel, which satisfies due process. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.