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Judge denies $80 million penalty in Wal-Mart truck drivers lawsuit: AP

FILE PHOTO - Shopping carts are seen outside a new Wal-Mart Express store in Chicago July 26, 2011. REUTERS/John Gress/Files

(Reuters) - A federal judge refused to order Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) to pay $80 million in penalties in a lawsuit alleging the retailer failed to pay hundreds of truck drivers in California the minimum compensation for certain tasks, the Associated Press reported.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco ruled on Wednesday that Wal-Mart acted in good faith when paying the drivers and reasonably believed its payment policy aligned with California law, AP reported. http://apne.ws/2jTppuK

Current and former Wal-Mart truck drivers in California sued the company in 2008, claiming a plan that compensated drivers by mileage and activity rather than hours worked violated state law. The company dropped the plan in 2015.

In November 2016, a jury held that Wal-Mart owed the drivers backpay and handed down a $55 million verdict against the company for failing to pay about 850 of its truck drivers all of the compensation to which they were entitled.

"While we still disagree with the jury's verdict in the case, we're pleased the judge declined to award any additional penalties," Wal-Mart said in an emailed statement.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco previously ruled that Wal-Mart violated California law for not paying its truck drivers minimum wage for all work performed. Illston left the determination of damages for trial.

Lawyers for the drivers had asked Illston to award an additional $80 million in penalties and damages.

Wal-Mart said that its drivers were among the highest paid in the industry, earning about $80,000 to over $100,000 per year, adding that drivers were paid in compliance with California law and often in excess of what California law requires.

(Reporting by Bhanu Pratap in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)