Shareholder Derivative Lawsuit Over Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Dismissed In Favor Of English Forum

A wave of litigation followed in the wake of the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Among this litigation were several shareholder derivative suits filed against certain directors and officers of BP and of its U.S. subsidiary. At the time these cases first arose, I asked whether or not these suits involving (and ultimately for the benefit of) an English corporation and even asserting claims under English law would be permitted to go forward in U.S. courts.  

A September 15, 2011 ruling from Judge Keith Ellison of the Southern District of Texas determined that, notwithstanding the fact that the Deepwater Horizon disaster took place in the U.S. and caused extensive environmental damage here, "the English High Court is a far more appropriate forum for this litigation," and accordingly he granted the defendants' motion to dismiss the cases.  Judge Ellison's September 15 decision can be found here.

As discussed here, plaintiffs filed the first of several derivative lawsuits in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in May 2010. Though many of the lawsuits were first filed in the Eastern District of Louisiana, the cases were ultimately consolidated through the multidistrict litigation process in the Southern District of Texas. However, while the lawsuits were filed in U.S. courts, they asserted claims under the English Companies Act of 2006 (about which refer here). The defendants moved to dismiss the consolidated derivative litigation in the grounds of forum non conveniens.

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Read other items of interest from the world of directors & officers liability, with occasional commentary, at the D&O Diary, a blog by Kevin LaCroix.

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