A state judge ruled Monday that record mogul Sean "Puffy" Combs, rapper Dwight "Heavy D" Myers and the state of New York were equally responsible for a 1991 stampede that left nine people dead. A lawyer for a woman hurt in the incident at the City College of New York said the 73-page ruling by Court of Claims Judge Louis Benza enables plaintiffs in the case to seek monetary damages from Combs and Myers in civil court. The deadly stampede took place when an AIDS charity event involving rap artists attracted thousands more spectators than could be accommodated at the college's 2,730-seat Nat Holman arena. In addition to the nine deaths, 29 people were injured in the incident on Dec. 28, 1991. Because the decision was made by a Court of Claims judge, the rappers were not immediately held legally liable. However, City College was held liable for the tragedy and could be forced to pay damages once the judge hears the damage phase of the case. "What the decision does is to allow us to continue the litigation against the two rap artists," said lawyer Peter De Filippis. "We are very pleased with the decision." Combs, a major recording star and CEO of Bad Boy Records, was one of two promoters of the charity event. The stampede inside the arena began when hundreds of fans without tickets broke through the main entrance's glass door. Combs testified in March 1998 that college representatives were supposed to provide security for the event. He testified that he had hired additional security . . . The winners of the 26th annual American Music Awards, presented at the Shrine Auditorium on Monday, include Eric Clapton (favorite male artist), Celine Dion (favorite female artist), and Will Smith's "Big Willie Style" (favorite album). Favorite new artist went to teen throbs 'N Sync.