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By now I am sure that everyone knows about the thousands of claims BP is facing over property damage and loss of income resulting from the massive oil spill that released millions of gallons oil into the Gulf of Mexico, but my guess is that far fewer are aware of another large group of lawsuits BP is facing over losses suffered by investors and employees who took big hits their portfolios and retirment plans as BP stock prices plummeted following the spill.

The lawsuits allege that BP knew the rig was unsafe and made attempts to downplay the spill so that shares would be purchased at an inflated price.

This host of suits has been consolidated to Houston under U.S. district Judge Keith P. Ellison. Ellison will heart civil securities fraud claims, shareholder derivative actions, and claims from BP employees who have taken loses to their retirement plans. All cases falling outside of the securities realm will be transferred to New Orleans.

Some experts believe securities lawsuits may actually end costing BP more than economic loss claims when all is said and done.

BP has reportedly aside $32.2 billion to for spill costs and to pay legal claims, in addition to the $20 billion in the claim fund, but many believe costs will easily exceed this $52.2 billion threshold.

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