BP investors lose bid for class status in Gulf spill case

Sat Dec 7, 2013 1:51pm EST
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By Nate Raymond

(Reuters) - 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," Ellison wrote.

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 class treatment."

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 Comcast ruling."   Continued...

BP logo is seen at a fuel station of British oil company BP in St. Petersburg, October 18, 2012. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk/Files