Glendale Federal Bank's bid to recover more than $1.5 billion in damages from the government in its regulatory goodwill case began Monday.

During opening arguments, Glendale lawyer Ronald Stevens told Judge Loren A. Smith of the Federal Claims Court that the thrift will prove that it suffered actual damages when Congress broke its promise to let the thrift keep goodwill on its books for 40 years in exchange for assuming Broward Country Savings and Loan Association in 1981.

Mr. Stevens said Glendale would introduce "compelling and substantial evidence of the massive damages" the thrift suffered from the loss of goodwill. The trial is expected to last for nine weeks. A decision could come late this year.

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