A Baltimore County jury yesterday awarded the Maryland School for the Blind $25,000 in its attempt to wrest a widow's estate from her longtime friend and financial adviser.
But the jury left most of the late Claude Faye Bass' $207,000 estate with the man to whom she had willed the money, Henry F. Hartlove of Phoenix.
Lawyers for the school had sued for the entire estate instead of a $44,000 residual gift Mrs. Bass provided for the institution in her will. They also asked for $1.2 million in damages from Mr. Hartlove.
After a three-day Circuit Court trial, the jury awarded the school $25,000 from Mr. Hartlove for breach of fiduciary duty but ruled against the school on three other counts. The ruling puzzled Judge Christian M. Kahl. He dismissed the jury and said that in making his own finding of facts, "I would not have found a failure of fiduciary duty" on Mr. Hartlove's part.
Oren D. Saltzman, Mr. Hartlove's attorney, said he will file a motion to set aside the jury's verdict and substitute the judge's finding.
Michael J. Kelly, attorney for the school, said he was not certain what additional legal steps he would take.
At issue were four bank accounts with balances totaling $170,000 that were held jointly by Mr. Hartlove and Mrs. Bass, 75, wife of the late golf professional Johnny Bass. Testimony showed that the Hartlove and Bass families were longtime friends and neighbors in Timonium.