Exxon Corp. is liable to pay civil damages only to those who suffered direct economic losses because of the nation's worst oil spill, a judge ruled.

U.S. District Court Judge H. Russel Holland ruled Friday that sport fishermen, fish processors, boat charterers and other groups and individuals could not pursue damage claims against Exxon or Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. because the spilled oil from the Exxon Valdez did not harm them economically.