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Plaintiffs Urged to Accept Partial Damages in Suit

November 18, 1998

LOS ANGELES — Superior Court Judge Richard C. Hubbell has given 38 former and current Lockheed employees who were awarded a record $760 million in punitive damages in a toxic pollution case until Friday to accept only half as much or face a new trial.

Hubbell, who had originally urged the jury to "send a notice out to the world" with a high monetary award, said in an order that became available Tuesday that he has "determined from the evidence that [the] amount of the reduced judgment is fair and reasonable."

There was no immediate comment from either the plaintiffs' attorney, Thomas V. Girardi, or the defense attorney, Laurence F. Janssen, on Hubbell's statement. Nor was there any indication of whether Girardi would accept half the damages.

Girardi had warned clients in a letter soon after the verdict was rendered in August that it might not stand in its entirety.

The verdict, along with $25.4 million in compensatory damages, was against five major oil and chemical companies, which vowed to appeal: Exxon, Unocal, Shell, Ashland and Du Pont.

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