Ohio Pension Funds File Lawsuit Against BP

April 19, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a lawsuit against British Petroleum (BP) on behalf of four of the state's pension systems. 
The plaintiffs are the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS), State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio (STRS), School Employees Retirement System of Ohio (SERS) and the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund (OP&F). The suit claims that BP misrepresented information about its safety practices and procedures before the Deepwater Horizon explosion in April 2010. The lawsuit also alleges that BP knowingly made false and misleading statements regarding the size of the oil spill.

“The BP Deepwater Horizon spill caused the tragic loss of life and extensive environmental damage in the Gulf of Mexico,” said DeWine. “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.”

The complaint describes the lack of a sound and adequate safety plan that multiple BP executives had assured the investing public would be put in place as a result of a series of safety issues before the Deepwater Horizon disaster. 

Ohio’s lawsuit comes two months after a Texas federal judge dismissed certain claims involving ordinary shares purchased in In re BP PLC Securities Litigation, the ongoing class action in which the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System continues to act as co-lead plaintiff (see “Pension Funds Named as BP Oil Spill Suit Lead Plaintiffs”).  

The judge overseeing the federal lawsuit let stand class claims involving purchases of BP's New York-traded American depository shares, but dismissed those involving BP ordinary shares as not being covered by federal securities law (see “BP Stock Drop Suit Dismissed”).

The new state lawsuit relates to BP ordinary shares.

"With this lawsuit, we will pursue claims under Ohio law on behalf of Ohio's teachers, school workers, first responders, and public service current and future retirees," added DeWine.