In a victory for banks, a federal judge has severely limited the liability of trustees for environmental cleanups. Judge Duross Fitzpatrick of the U.S. District Court in Macon, Ga., ruled last month that NationsBank does not have to pay to remove contaminated soil at a pesticide plant even though it maintained trust accounts that held an interest in the polluter.

Canadyne-Georgia Corp. sued the lender in 1996, charging that the trust department at a precursor to NationsBank helped run the plant for nearly 50 years.

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