By some accounts, 1997 will finally be the year of big thrift sales in California. But a lingering legacy of the thrift debacle threatens to gum up the works.

Some of the state's most desirable targets, including the nation's largest thrift, H.F. Ahmanson & Co.'s Home Savings of America, Irwindale, are tied up in complex lawsuits against the federal government that date from the thrift crisis.

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