(CLEVELAND) – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a lawsuit today in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on behalf of four of the state's pension systems – 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) -- against BP and certain officers and directors and subsidiaries.
The lawsuit claims that BP misrepresented information about its safety practices and procedures before the Deepwater Horizon explosion in April of 2010. The lawsuit also alleges that BP's statements regarding the size of the oil spill were knowingly false and misleading when made.
"The BP Deepwater Horizon spill caused the tragic loss of life and extensive environmental damage in the Gulf of Mexico," said Attorney General Mike 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 a 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.
Today's state lawsuit comes two months after a Texas federal judge dismissed certain claims involving ordinary shares purchases in In re BP p.l.c. Securities Litigation, the ongoing class-action lawsuit in which the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System continues to act as co-lead plaintiff. 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. The new state lawsuit relates to BP ordinary shares.
In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison cited Morrison v. National Australia Bank, Ltd., a 2010 Supreme Court decision. The Supreme Court's decision, as construed by lower federal courts, has effectively barred federal claims against foreign issuers on non-U.S. stock purchases, no matter how significantly U.S. investors were impacted by the fraud or where the fraudulent behavior took place.
"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 Attorney General Mike DeWine.
Lisa Peterson-Hackley -- 614-466-3840
Eve Mueller -- 614-466-3840