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Court Reverses More Than $1 Billion In Damages Against Exxon Mobil

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WASHINGTON - Exxon Mobil Corp. has won a legal victory in its effort to fight damages of about $1.5 billion stemming from a 2006 gasoline spill in Maryland.

In a decision released Tuesday, the Maryland Court of Appeals reversed more than $1 billion in punitive damages, awarded by a jury in 2011, and said residents and business who accused the energy giant of fraud hadn't sufficiently proven their case.

The court also reversed a large number of compensatory damages, which originally totaled about $500 million.

The case stems back to February 2006 when 26,000 gallons of gasoline leaked from underground storage tanks owned by Exxon Mobil at a fueling station in Jacksonville, Md. The gasoline moved into a water aquifer that supplied drinking water to many residents.

Dozens of residents and business owners filed suit and accused Exxon Mobil of fraud. They also said they suffered because of concerns over contracting cancer and losing value on their properties.

In 2011, a jury at the Circuit Court for Baltimore County awarded the residents and business owners about $500 million in compensatory damages and $1 billion in punitive damages.

Exxon said the company is reviewing the court's decision.

"The evidence showed that we acted appropriately after the accident and the court has agreed," the company said, adding that it has apologized to the Jacksonville community and remains "ready to compensate those who were truly damaged by this unfortunate incident."

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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