Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court has restored Golden State Bancorp’s claim for $1.5 billion in its breach-of-contract suit against the federal government.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ordered a trial judge to reconsider whether a federal accounting rule change led to reduced profits for the Glendale, Calif., company’s Cal Fed thrift unit.

United States Claims Court Judge Robert H. Hodges Jr. had rejected that theory as too speculative and awarded Cal Fed only $23 million. Judge Hodges “erred by not permitting Cal Fed to present its evidence at trial,” Chief Judge Haldane Robert Mayer wrote for the appellate panel, which voted 3-0 to restore the claim.

The dispute is a test case for dozens of other so-called “supervisory goodwill” lawsuits, which collectively seek as much as $30 billion from the government.

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