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Ohio AG sues BP on behalf of state pension systems


CLEVELAND—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a lawsuit Thursday against BP P.L.C. on behalf of four of the state's pension systems in connection with the oil company's April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The suit, which also names various BP officers and directors as defendants, was filed in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in Cleveland on behalf of the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio, School Employees Retirement System of Ohio and the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund, which had purchased BP stock.

The suit says “plaintiffs were misled and deceived when they purchased BP ordinary shares. They were misled into believing that BP had committed to, and made improvements to, its process safety programs and performance when it had not.

“They were misled and deceived into believing that BP would improve its process safety performance throughout the entire company when, in fact, BP omitted to disclose that it excluded from its marquee process safety improvement initiative the vast majority of its drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico, which constituted some of BP's highest risk and most dangerous operations.”

The suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, among other things.

The explosion, which led to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, happened exactly two years ago, on April 20, 2010.

“The BP Deepwater Horizon spill caused the tragic loss of life and extensive environmental damage in the Gulf of Mexico,” Mr. DeWine said in a statement. “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 statement from the Ohio attorney general’s office said the lawsuit comes two months after a Texas federal judge dismissed certain claims involving BP ordinary shares in an ongoing class action lawsuit in which the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System continues to act as a co-lead plaintiff.

It says the judge overseeing the federal lawsuit let stand class claims involving purchase of BP’s New York-traded American Depository Shares, but dismissed those involving BP ordinary shares as not covered by federal securities law. The new state lawsuit relates to BP ordinary shares.