Pension Plans Pursue Lead Plaintiff Status in BP Shareholder Suit

July 22, 2010 ( - Public pension funds of New York and Ohio announced they will seek lead plaintiff status on behalf of investors in a securities class action against BP PLC, certain of its officers and directors, and BP America, Inc.

A news release from the office of Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray said the lead plaintiff group includes 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. The combined funds invest more than $275 billion.  

The public pension funds assert that, under federal law, they should serve as the lead plaintiff because of their significant losses as a result of the BP’s misconduct. Initial estimates indicate the public funds lost more than $200 million from their transactions in BP common stock and American depositary shares during the class period, currently pleaded as beginning on June 30, 2005, and ending on June 1, 2010, according to the announcement. 

The lawsuit alleges that during the class period, BP and related defendants issued materially false and misleading statements regarding the company’s safety protocols and record, as well as its ability to respond to a major oil spill. As a result, BP’s securities traded at artificially inflated prices. 

Since the April 20, 2010, explosion on the offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon operated by BP, its stock has fallen approximately 40%.  

“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,” said Cordray, in the announcement.   

BP is also facing lawsuits related to company stock holdings in its retirement plan (see Emerson Poynter LLP Probes BP Plan Practices).