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    Court Rules for ExxonMobil

    Decision could slash a $500-million jury award to independent gas station owners.

    A jury award worth up to $500 million to gas station owners who claimed fuel overcharges by Exxon Corp. may shrink to $375 million under an order by the trial judge.

    U.S. District Judge Alan Gold refused to combine the estimated losses and certify a $500 million verdict, saying the final dollar amount will depend on an extended process with individual dealers filing their own claims. Exxon estimated $125 million worth of claims could disappear as a result, the Associated Press reported.

    Despite the ruling, the judge generally sided with the dealers on other key points, allowing interest that could double the verdict and upholding the verdict over 13 Exxon objections questioning everything from the jury's thinking to the judge's instructions.

    A jury decided in February that 10,000 gas station owners in 35 states were entitled to money collected by the company for 12 years under a program that promised but never paid rebates for credit card sales.

    The station owners want any unclaimed money to go to state treasuries rather than allow Exxon to keep and profit from it, the report said. A payment to a station owner would be based on the number of gallons of gasoline and diesel bought by credit card at the owner's station during the 12-year period.

    Depending on the year, the station owners claimed they were overcharged 1.03 cents to 1.4 cents per gallon on 40 billion gallons of fuel

    The judge asked a federal appeals court to consider challenges to his orders issued last week before the claims administration process begins.

    Exxon merged with Mobil in 1999 to form the largest publicly traded oil company. ExxonMobil earned $17.7 billion on revenue of $233 billion last year.

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