LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — American Airlines admitted Wednesday that its negligence contributed to the 1999 crash of a jet at the Little Rock airport, but it said it would fight any attempts to win extensive punitive damages.

American said it would no longer contest the issue of its liability for provable compensatory damages to passengers or others who have sued over the June 1 crash.

Eleven people, including the pilot, died when the MD-82 went off the end of a runway, hit a lighting tower and caught fire as it attempted to land in a thunderstorm. The plane was carrying 145 people.

The airline said it hoped the admission of negligence would help achieve a speedy resolution of pending claims for compensatory damages.

The company said the admission was "in no way intended to affect the rights of American to recover contribution or indemnity, or both, from anyone who may have contributed to the cause of this accident."

Two lawsuits have gone to trial, and American has been hit with large judgments on both occasions. They resulted in a nearly $11 million judgment for one woman and $6.5 million for another. The airline is asking for a new trial in the second case.

"The issue of conduct going beyond negligence is still there," said attorney Ted Boswell, who has filed lawsuits on behalf of about two dozen passengers on the flight.

The airline said it does not waive its right to contest a half-dozen issues, including "all issues affecting the theories, amounts and elements of compensatory damages that may be awarded."

Boswell said the plaintiffs would attempt to show that the airline's conduct exceeded mere negligence.