WASHINGTON — A judge has ruled that Sprint Nextel Corp. violated California law in how it charged customers for quitting service early.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Bonnie Sabraw ruled Monday that Sprint will have to pay $18.2 million in cash to customers who sued over the fees and credit $54.7 million to those who were charged but did not pay the fees.

The judge also rejected Sprint's argument that federal law pre-empts California law on the case, a determination that is expected to have a broader impact on ongoing efforts at the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the so-called "early termination fees."