Class certification rulings about Deepwater Horizon

bplogoIn the wake of the Deepwater Horizon accident, plaintiffs sought to bring two class actions against BP alleging violations of federal securities law — one regarding BP’s representations about its pre-spill safety procedures, and one about BP’s post-accident statements as to the flow rate of oil after the spill occurred. The district court certified the post-spill class, concluding that the plaintiffs had established a model of damages consistent with their liability case and capable of measurement across the class, and refused to certify the pre-spill class, finding that it had not satisfied the “common damages” burden established by the Supreme Court in Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, 133 S. Ct. 1426 (2013). The Fifth Circuit affirmed.  As to the post-spill class, the Court reviewed BP’s criticisms of the plaintiffs’ damages expert, and found that they were not so potent as to invalidate his theory at the class certification stage.  As to the pre-spill class, however, the Court agreed that the expert failed to exclude class members who would have bought the stock even with full knowledge of the alleged risks, making his analysis infirm for certification purposes.  Ludlow v. BP, PLC, No. 14-20420 (revised Sept.15, 2015).

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