BP must face shareholder suit over 2006 Alaska oil spill

SAN FRANCISCO — A U.S. appeals court revived a shareholder lawsuit against BP over statements the company made in the wake of a 2006 oil spill in Alaska on Thursday.

The ruling from the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco allows shareholders to proceed with some securities fraud claims against BP after a lower judge dismissed them.

In March 2006, about 200,000 gallons of oil spilled from a BP pipeline onto the Alaskan tundra at Prudhoe Bay, according to the opinion.

The court:

“Despite BP’s public statements suggesting that the spill was an anomaly, a second leak was discovered five months later in a different BP oil transit line in the region. As a result, the company temporarily shut down regional operations.”

BP-Alaska eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for negligent discharge of oil, and paid a $20 million fine to settle state and federal criminal claims, the court wrote, along with additional civil penalties.

A group of shareholders filed a proposed class action against the company in 2008, claiming that HP and its executives made knowingly false statements about the events. A Seattle federal judge dismissed all claims, but the 9th Circuit on Thursday ruled that the plaintiffs provided enough evidence to show that some of the statements at issue should be litigated.

The court:

“In this case, facts alleged in the complaint support the conclusion that BP had been aware of corrosive conditions for over a decade, and yet chose not to address them.”

Source: Reuters


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