Transocean defeats U.S. shareholder appeal over Gulf spill

Thu Mar 17, 2016 12:33pm EDT
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By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Transocean Ltd (RIGN.S: Quote) on Thursday won the dismissal of an appeal by shareholders accusing the owner of the doomed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig of deceiving them about its safety practices prior to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the lead plaintiff waited two months too long to sue over alleged misstatements in an Oct. 2, 2007, proxy statement for the offshore drilling company's merger with GlobalSantaFe Corp.

Shares of Transocean rose 3 percent after the decision was issued.

Geoffrey Johnson, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, declined to comment. Transocean and its lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Former GlobalSantaFe shareholders, who received Transocean shares in the merger, said the proxy statement contained false and misleading statements about the company's compliance with environmental laws.

Led by the DeKalb County Pension Fund in Decatur, Georgia, the shareholders sought to hold the Swiss company liable for their losses after the April 20, 2010, explosion of the Deepwater Horizon and blowout of BP Plc's (BP.L: Quote) Macondo well.

The disaster caused Transocean shares to lose more than half their value within seven weeks.

Writing for the appeals court, however, Circuit Judge José Cabranes said the Georgia fund did not join the case until Dec. 3, 2010, missing the three-year deadline to sue over the proxy statement.   Continued...

Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, off Louisiana, in this handout photograph taken on April 21, 2010 and obtained on April 22. REUTERS/U.S. Coast Guard/Handout