Ohio AG pursues state shareholder claims against BP

John O'Brien Apr. 20, 2012, 7:45am


COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says BP misrepresented information about its safety practices, leading to investment losses by four of the state's public pension systems.

DeWine filed a lawsuit against BP on Thursday in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. The BP-licensed Deepwater Horizon oil rig, located in the Gulf of Mexico exploded on April 20, 2010, resulting in the largest offshore spill in U.S. history. Eleven workers died in the explosion.

DeWine filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio, the School Employees Retirement System of Ohio and the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund.

"The BP Deepwater Horizon spill caused the tragic loss of life and extensive environmental damage in the Gulf of Mexico," DeWine said. "Another result of this immense disaster was to Ohio pension systems providing retirement benefits for current and future retirees that invested in BP in good faith and were adversely affected when their stock price plummeted."

Ohio is a co-lead plaintiff in an ongoing federal lawsuit in which a judge let stand class claims involving purchases of BP's New York-traded American Depository Shares but dismissed claims involving BP ordinary shares not covered by federal securities law.

Thursday's lawsuit relates to BP's ordinary shares. The Ohio funds are represented by outside counsel in the federal lawsuit.

Those firms are Boston's Berman DeValerio and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll of Washington, D.C.

Last month, BP reached an agreement with hundreds of thousands of individuals and businesses affected by the spill worth an estimated $7.8 billion.

BP said the money will be paid to the plaintiffs from a $20 billion trust fund set up by the company.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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