WASHINGTON - A California appeals court slashed a judgment against First Interstate Bank by more than $9 million, ruling that credit card holders can't use a quirk of California law to avoid high interest charges by refusing to pay their bills.

The California Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District, in reducing the $14 million judgment, said cardholders can't attempt to invalidate their card contracts, and thus avoid interest payments, by exceeding their credit limits or failing to pay their balances on time.

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