Maryland's highest court yesterday reinstated a jury's $112 million civil judgment against the former chairman of a defunct Bethesda savings and loan institution, reversing the ruling of a lower appellate court.
The Court of Appeals held that the lower court erred when it declared a mistrial in the 1988 Community Savings and Loan case simply because a Circuit Court clerk accidently placed in the jury room a box of documents not admitted as evidence.
While the lower court had cited the possibility that jurors had been prejudiced by the documents as grounds for its action, the Court of Appeals said there was too little proof of that to justify throwing out the award on those grounds.
The case was returned to the lower court for consideration of other issues that Community's chairman, Tom J. Billman, of McLean, raised in his appeal.
Billman's 4 1/2-month civil trial, the longest and costliest in Montgomery County history, centered on whether he and other Community officials had misused depositors' funds to finance a nationwide real estate scheme. A few months after the verdict, he disappeared, and earlier this year, he was indicted on federal racketeering charges. Now considered a fugitive, he is believed to be living in Europe.