A U.S. District Court judge awarded $500,000 in punitive damages to a Kansas community bank that successfully sued Shearson Lehman Brothers Inc. over a false credit reference.

Citizens State Bank, Liberal, Kan., sued the New York City-based brokerage firm in August 1993, alleging that it relied on an untrue positive reference from one of Shearson's New York brokers for a bank customer whose loan later defaulted.

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