Knocking down a novel award to automobile insurers, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that only the direct victims of crimes are entitled to court-ordered restitution.

In a quirky interpretation of a section of Proposition 8, the so-called “Victims Bill of Rights” passed in 1994, the unanimous court held that trial courts could not split restitution between defendants as a condition of probation and insurers who have already reimbursed victims.