The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has ruled shareholders will be able to go ahead with securities fraud claims from the 2006 spill, according to local news sources.
In early 2006, about 200,000 gallons of oil from a BP pipeline spilled into Prudhoe Bay in Alaska.
“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 reportedly wrote.
Shareholders filed a proposed class action shortly after the incident, claiming BP made false statements about the events after the company pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour for negligent discharge of oil.
At the same, BP said it should have done a better job of maintaining the pipeline.
The 9th Circuit court overturned a decision by a Seattle federal judge to dismiss the claims, ruling the plaintiffs had enough evidence.
“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 reportedly wrote.
The lawsuit filed against BP claimed the company’s irresponsible behaviour created risky conditions which led to the incident.
“Defendants’ grossly negligent, if not intentional, failure to oversee the corporate assets of this valuable enterprise have exposed BP to tens of millions of dollars in damages, potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in remedial costs and badly damaged BP’s corporate image and reputation,” the lawsuit said.
It sought an unspecified amount of monetary damages and a refund of executive salaries as well as a reorganisation of the company’s board.