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COURTS

Public pension fund lawsuits piling up against BP

BP sign

A slew of public pension funds filed lawsuits against BP PLC on April 18 for investment losses resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and oil spill in April 2010.

The first lawsuit, with the Richmond-based $58.3 billion Virginia Retirement System as lead plaintiff, covers American depository shares and BP ordinary shares purchased on the London Stock Exchange between Nov. 8, 2007, and June 25, 2010. The other plaintiffs in the VRS-led suit are the $34.5 billion Missouri Public School and Education Employee Retirement Systems, Jefferson City; $28.6 billion Indiana Public Retirement System, Indianapolis; Nebraska Investment Council, Lincoln, which oversees $20 billion including $11.1 billion in defined benefit plan assets; and $14 billion Idaho Public Employee Retirement System, Boise.

The plaintiffs seek compensation for investment losses to their BP shares due to the firm’s “false and misleading statements and omissions” regarding safety reforms that BP said it had implemented as a result of earlier accidents, the firm’s ability to respond to the oil spill and the firm’s reports regarding the amount of oil spilled as a result of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, according to the complaint filed on April 18 in the U.S. District Court in Houston.

The $57 billion Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Board, Boston, also filed its own lawsuit as sole plaintiff against BP on April 18, also in the U.S. District Court in Houston, in connection with its transactions in BP ordinary shares from Feb. 7, 2007, through May 28, 2010. The lawsuit also alleges that investment losses resulted from misleading statements in connection with the oil rig explosion and oil spill.

Another lawsuit was filed in the same court on April 18 by the €292 billion ($381 billion) Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP, Heerlen, Netherlands; $124 billion Texas Teacher Retirement System, Austin; and $10.6 billion Louisiana State Employees’ Retirement System, Baton Rouge; along with ING IM funds and Norges Bank and covers American depository shares and BP ordinary shares purchased on the London Stock Exchange between Feb. 7, 2007, and June 25, 2010. The complaint makes similar allegations to the Virginia-led lawsuit.

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler’s office also announced April 18 the filing of its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Houston against BP for investment losses resulting from the Deepwater Horizon disaster sustained by the $44 billion Maryland State Retirement & Pension System, Baltimore.

These newest lawsuits follow the April 2013 lawsuit by New York City Retirement Systems’ five pension funds, with combined assets of $150 billion, for failing to “disclose to shareowners the serious risks involved in its offshore drilling operation,” according to John Liu, New York City comptroller and sole trustee of the pension funds, at the time.

Ohio and Oregon also filed lawsuits in April 2012 on behalf of state pension funds.

BP officials could not be reached by press time.