(Adds BP statement)
July 15 A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday revived
a lawsuit in which participants in four BP Plc employee
retirement savings plans claimed they were deceived into buying
and holding BP stock before and after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans said
that a ruling last month from the U.S. Supreme Court upended the
reasoning applied by a lower court that had dismissed the class
action suit two years ago.
A unanimous three-judge panel ordered U.S. District Judge
Keith Ellison in Houston to take another look at the claims of
participants in the retirement savings plans.
The participants said the value of a BP stock fund in which
their money was invested fell by $1.85 billion in the months
after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.
The explosion killed 11 workers and caused the worst ever U.S.
offshore oil spill.
The participants alleged that BP misled them, as investors,
and as early as 2007 overstated the safety controls the company
had in place.
They also alleged that fiduciaries who were charged with
managing the retirement savings plans breached their duties by
failing to sell off BP stock and take other actions to protect
Ellison dismissed the lawsuit in March 2012, finding that
plan fiduciaries enjoyed a legal presumption that they acted
The U.S. Supreme Court, though, did away with the
presumption last month in a different case, and the appeals
court said the development meant Ellison should reconsider the
In May, Ellison ruled in a separate shareholder suit that
another set of investors who bought BP's American depository
shares soon after the explosion may pursue claims as a group.
"The Fifth Circuit today remanded the ERISA case to the
district court in light of new pleading standards set forth by
the Supreme Court," BP spokesman Geoff Morrell said in a
statement. "BP does not believe the plaintiffs satisfy these new
standards and intends to renew its motion to dismiss in the
An attorney for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond.
The case is Whitley, et al, v. BP Plc, et al, 5th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 12-20670.
(Reporting by David Ingram in New York; Editing by Noeleen
Walder and Jonathan Oatis)