BP (formerly British Petroleum) has agreed to pay $102 million to settle a whistleblower-initiated California False Claims Act case alleging that the company grossly overcharged California cities, counties, universities, and government agencies for natural gas over the course of the past decade. BP’s contracts with California contained explicit price caps, but the relator alleged that the company routinely provided false and misleading information to hide cap violations, and billed the state many times what it billed private customers for the same volume of gas.
A four-week jury trial was set to begin the week of the settlement, and over 50 depositions had already been taken across the country and in London. The case was filed in July of 2012. This is the largest whistleblower settlement in California history involving an oil and gas company.
TAFEF members Niall McCarthy and Justin Berger and their colleagues at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy represented relator Christopher Schroen in the litigation.