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December 29, 2010

 

New York, Ohio Pension Funds Named Co-Lead Plaintiffs in BP Oil Spill Suit



The New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund) will co-lead the class action lawsuit against BP, Plc stemming from its poor safety practices which were exposed by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and subsequent clean-up effort. New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, as sole trustee of the Fund, will co-lead the class together with the Ohio Attorney General who represents four Ohio public pension funds.  The decision was announced on Tuesday by the Honorable Keith Ellison of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

“BP publicly distorted its safety procedures and its level of preparedness to respond to a catastrophe such as the Deepwater Horizon explosion, thereby misleading investors and causing the value of BP’s stock to plummet when the truth was exposed,” DiNapoli said. “That’s unacceptable. As trustee of the Fund, our more than one million members, retirees and beneficiaries expect me to vigorously protect their interests. I will make sure that the Fund and all class members are properly compensated for their losses.”

Comptroller DiNapoli, as trustee of the $132.8 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, filed for co-lead plaintiff status in July 2010 and hired the law firm of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC to represent the Fund. The suit alleges that BP misrepresented its safety procedures and ability to prevent an oil spill of the magnitude of Deepwater Horizon. The suit also accuses the company of misleading investors in its ability to clean up the spill in a timely manner, leading to a significant decline in shareholder value.

BP lost approximately 40 percent of its stock price following the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill in April 2010.  The Fund held an estimated 19 million shares at the time of the event.  The Fund provides benefits to more than one million active and retired state and local government employees, police officers, and firefighters and their beneficiaries. In addition to investment earnings, the Fund is funded by contributions by state and local government employers and employees.

In addition to appointing New York and Ohio as co-lead plaintiffs, Judge Ellison also named a separate group as lead plaintiff for a sub-class of investors who purchased within a portion of the class period.


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