BP shareholders sue in federal court

Michelle Massey May 17, 2010, 4:58am

BP shareholders have filed a lawsuit accusing the company of choosing to maximize output at BP's production facilities instead of complying with safety regulations.

Louisiana Municipal Police Employees' Retirement System (LAMPERS) filed the shareholder derivative complaint May 10 in federal court in New Orleans.

The group alleges that BP's alleged failure to comply with its duties has caused "one of the worst oil spills in the history of the United States," the lawsuit states.

The named defendants include BP's board of directors, Transocean, Cameron, Halliburton, and their insurers.

According to the complaint, BP has promised safety improvements, but has failed to follow through with its obligations.

"These failures have cost employees their lives and made the Company incur billions of dollars in damages," the complaint states.

LAMPERS claims the cost of the Deepwater Horizon accident will be in the tens of billions of dollars, which includes an estimated $2.5 billion loss to the fishing industry and $3 billion loss in tourism. The incident has caused BP's stock price to drop by over 19 percent, wiping out BP's market value, the complaint states.

The group also claims that BP is incurring additional costs of at least $6 million per day trying to stop and clean-up the oil spill.

LAMPERS, a retirement system for full time municipal police officers and employees in Louisiana, is asking the court to award damages, plus interest, punitive damages and court costs. The group is also asking the court to order BP to reform and improve corporate governance policies including establishing an environmental and litigation exposure oversight committee.

New Orleans attorneys Lewis S. Kahn, Albert M. Myers, Paul Balanon and Melinda Nicholson of Kahn Swick & Foti are representing the shareholders. Co-counsel includes New Orleans attorney G. Anthony Gelderman III, of Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossman and New York attorneys Gerald H. Silk, Amy Miller and Jeremy Friedman also of Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossman.

Jury trial is requested. U.S. District Judge Martin L.C. Feldman is assigned to the case.

A nearly identical shareholder derivative lawsuit was filed by Katherine Firpo, a Pennsylvania BP investor. The case was filed May 7 in the federal court in New Orleans but was voluntarily dismissed May 11.

Case No. 2:10-cv-01439

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