The ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San
Francisco allows shareholders to proceed with some securities fraud
claims against BP after a lower judge had dismissed them.
Representatives for BP and the plaintiffs could not immediately be
reached for comment.
In March 2006, about 200,000 gallons of oil spilled from a BP
pipeline onto the Alaskan tundra at Prudhoe Bay, according to the
"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," the court wrote. "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
A group of shareholders filed a proposed class action against the
company in 2008, claiming that BP 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 had provided enough evidence to show that some of the
statements at issue should be litigated.
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"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," the court wrote.
The case in the 9th Circuit is Claude Reese et al. vs. Robert Malone
et al., 12-35260.
(Reporting by Dan Levine; editing by
Leslie Adler and Jan Paschal)
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