Ex-Employee Sues BP Over Plan Losses

June 25, 2010 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – An ex-employee of BP Plc has sued the company over losses to BP’s retirement plan caused by the oil rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Bloomberg reported that Ralph Whitley filed the suit against London-based BP, its board, the Savings Plan Investment Oversight Committee of BP Corp. North America and the administrator of the plan in federal court in New York.  The news report said Whitley seeks to represent a class of plan participants and beneficiaries, from January 1, 2010, to now, whose accounts held BP American depositary shares (ADS), one of the retirement savings options. 

“The plan suffered millions of dollars in losses in plan benefits because substantial assets of the plan were imprudently invested or allowed to be invested by defendants in BP ADSs during the class period, in breach of defendants’ fiduciary duties,” Whitley said in the complaint. 

Whitley claims the defendants mismanaged plan assets, acted in their own interests rather than those of the plan participants, and continued to offer the shares as an investment alternative when BP’s negative financial and operating condition was being concealed. 

The case is Whitley v. BP Plc, 10-CV-4935, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York. 

Two law firms have launched investigations into BP’s offering of company stock in its retirement plans (see Another Law Firm Investigating BP 401(k) Plan), and New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has hired a law firm to represent the New York Common Retirement Fund in a shareholder suit against BP (see DiNapoli Lines up Counsel for BP Oil Spill Suit ).