LAFAYETTE, La. (Legal Newsline) - Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray wants the private lawyers representing Ohio pension funds to be named lead counsel in a class action lawsuit against BP.

Cordray is joined in his request by New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, whose state is also represented by the same attorneys. They allege a loss on their investments because of misstatements to investors leading to the April explosion on an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 workers and caused a lasting oil spill.

"Institutional investors, and the Ohio Funds in particular, have been greatly harmed by BP's alleged misconduct. By forming a partnership between New York and Ohio, we aim to compensate investors for what we believe was securities fraud and effect real change in the way BP and other companies do business," Cordray said.

Cordray said estimates indicate the Ohio and New York funds lost more than $200 million. He alleges BP and other defendants made misleading statements regarding the company's safety protocols and records.

BP's stock has fallen almost 40 percent since the April 20 explosion. The states filed their motion to become lead plaintiffs Tuesday in Louisiana federal court.

The law firms representing the states are Harrell & Nowak of New Orleans, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll of Washington, D.C., and Berman Devalerio of Boston. San Francisco attorneys Joseph Tabacco and Matthew Pearson are also representing the states.

The pensions allegedly affected are the New York State Common Retirement Fund, the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio, the School Employees Retirement System of Ohio and the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at

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