The New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany, and four Ohio public retirement funds were named lead plaintiffs in consolidated class-action lawsuits against BP PLC over losses resulting from the Gulf of Mexico oil well explosion and environmental disaster in April.
In an order signed Dec. 28, U.S. District Court Judge Keith P. Ellison granted a request made in July by the $132.8 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund and the four Ohio systems — the $71.3 billion Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, $60.9 billion Ohio State Teachers Retirement System, $10.1 billion Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund and $9.6 billion Ohio School Employees Retirement System.
“Among other things, the plaintiffs allege that BP and its executives made fraudulent statements about the company's safety measures and about the extent of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill,” the judge's order said.
The cases were filed in various federal district courts and consolidated in the Houston-based court, the order said.
The lead plaintiff requests were filed by Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York state comptroller and the New York fund's sole trustee, and Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray on behalf of the four Columbus, Ohio-based funds.
In an interview, Ted Hart, a spokesman for Mr. Cordray, said he didn't know when a trial might begin. Olayinka Fadahunsi, a spokesman for Mr. DiNapoli, confirmed in an e-mailed response to questions that the New York fund was designated as a lead plaintiff.
“Initial estimates indicate the Ohio and New York public funds lost more than $200 million from their transactions in BP common stock and American depository shares” between June 30, 2005, and June 1, 2010, according to a news release from Mr. Cordray.
During this period, plaintiffs allege “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,” the news release said. “As a result, BP's securities traded at artificially inflated prices.”