In a closely-watched development, our clients, lead plaintiffs New York State and Ohio State Public Employee Pension Funds, prevailed on key aspects of pending motions to dismiss in the BP share purchaser class action. The rulings were issued by presiding Judge Keith P. Ellison on February 13, 2012. The New York and Ohio plaintiffs are comprised of state-sponsored retirement and pension plans. Together, they represent a proposed class of investors who acquired BP shares on domestic or foreign exchanges during a 40-month period, January 16, 2007 to May 28, 2010.
In its ruling, the Court denied BP’s motion to dismiss the claims of domestic U.S. purchasers as to defendants BP plc, BP America, BP Exploration & Production, BP CEO Tony Hayward, and BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles. In particular, the Court found that the plaintiffs had adequately alleged that BP’s public statements that it would follow the recommendations of the Baker Panel (which evaluated BP’s safety procedures in the aftermath of the Texas City refinery disaster) were misleading to investors, in light of BP’s failure to implement its worldwide safety protocol in the Gulf. The Court also found that allegations concerning BP’s ability to respond to the spill were adequately alleged. The case is In re: BP PLC Securities Litigation, case number 4:10-md-02185, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.