The case was filed in 2012 by Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP on behalf of a former employee of BP under the California False Claims Act. As alleged in the lawsuit, BP is the exclusive supplier of natural gas to the State of California’s Natural Gas Services (“NGS”) program, through which California governmental entities buy hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of natural gas every year. BP’s contracts with California contain explicit caps on the amount that BP can charge California for natural gas. In violation of those contractual caps, BP has routinely charged California many times the amount that non-governmental customers were charged.
Under the California False Claims Act, a case remains under seal and non-public while the Attorney General’s Office investigates the allegations. Once the Attorney General decides whether or not to join, or “intervene,” in the matter, the case comes out from under seal.