Dec 7 A U.S. federal judge has refused to allow
investors to proceed as a group in a lawsuit accusing BP Plc
of fraud by misleading them - before and after the 2010
Gulf of Mexico oil spill - about the company's ability to
respond to an accident.
U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison in Houston denied a
request on Friday to certify a class action of holders of BP's
American depository shares (ADSs) who were allegedly injured by
the energy giant.
"Plaintiffs have failed to discharge their burden to
establish that damages in this case can be measured on a
class-wide basis consistent with their theories of liability,"
The judge said his decision was based largely on a U.S.
Supreme Court ruling from March holding that a class action
against Comcast Corp was improperly certified.
Ellison said the Supreme Court decision "has appreciably
changed the landscape for class certification."
But he said he would allow the plaintiffs another chance to
argue that their case should move forward as a class action,
giving them 30 days to file a new motion.
Geoff Morrell, a spokesman for BP, said the ruling "confirms
BP's view, as noted in our brief and at oral argument, that
plaintiffs failed to establish that this case is appropriate for
Steven Toll, a lawyer for the plaintiffs at Cohen Milstein
Sellers & Toll, said the investors "definitely do intend to
refile the motion to address the court's concerns about the
Friday's decision follows a February 2012 ruling dismissing
claims by purchasers of ordinary BP shares on the basis of an
earlier 2010 Supreme Court ruling limiting the ability of
holders of foreign securities to bring cases in U.S. courts.
The plaintiffs are led by the New York State Common
Retirement Fund and four Ohio public pension funds.
They sued BP after the April 20, 2010, explosion of the
Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which killed 11 people and
resulted in the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The
investors said BP's shares dropped in value around 40 percent in
the weeks after the incident.
The plaintiffs had asked Ellison to certify a class of
investors who bought ADSs between November 8, 2007, and May 28,
2010. They also asked for subclass to be certified covering
purchasers of ADSs from March 4, 2009, to April 20, 2010.
BP continues to face other litigation stemming from the
Deepwater Horizon incident, which has resulted in the company
taking $42.5 billion in charges to date.
In January, BP pleaded guilty to 14 criminal counts over
conduct leading up to and after the disaster as part of a $4
billion settlement with the U.S. Justice Department.
The case is In re: BP Plc Securities Litigation, U.S.
District Court, Southern District of Texas, No. 10-md-02185.