A federal jury in Alaska dealt Exxon a potentially $15 billion blow today by deciding that recklessness on the part of the company and the captain of its Valdez oil tanker was to blame for the worst oil spill in U.S. history. The verdict in itself won't net any money: this was the first of a three-phase process, in which the jurors will now be asked to decide what the damages should be -- up to the $15 billion figure -- and how much Exxon should pay. But the decision prompted a whoop of victory from one corner of the crowded courtroom, reports TIME's Natalie Phillips. Those with the most to gain: Alaska's fishermen, who claim their industry was seriously hurt by the spill. Native Alaskans, municipalities and a smattering of others are also plaintiffs in the suit. In all, more than 10,000 individuals or groups have joined the action against Exxon, since the 1989 incident.