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Jury orders Exxon to pay $495 million for leak: report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A jury in Maryland ordered oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp to pay more than $495 million in damages for a leak from a gas station in 2006, the Baltimore Sun reported on Thursday.

The Sun, citing documents released by Baltimore County Circuit Court, said the jury had given the awards to 160 families and businesses to compensate for lost property, emotional distress and medical monitoring related to damage from the underground leak of 26,000 gallons of gasoline.

The leak, which occurred from a pressurized line at the retail station over 37 days in January and February in 2006, reached the groundwater in the community that relies on private wells for drinking water.

Reuters was not immediately able to verify the damages, and Exxon Mobil was not able to comment on the report because the judge in the case, Robert Dugan, has imposed a gag order on the parties while the six-person jury remains in session.

The case is the second related to the spill. The jury in the first lawsuit, which involved fewer plaintiffs, awarded $150 million in compensatory damages. Exxon Mobil has appealed that verdict.

An Exxon lawyer told the jury on Tuesday that the company had already spent more than $46 million on the spill's cleanup and been fined $4 million by the state, the paper reported.

(Reporting by Matt Daily; Editing by Derek Caney)

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