BRENTWOOD - Mortgage broker Michael Gill was a no-show during a bench trial Friday in a defamation suit seeking about $100 million in damages from his controversial billboards.
Rockingham County Superior Court Judge N. William Delker moved forward with the trial without Gill or anyone else to represent him in a case brought by Alex Walker Jr., a prominent attorney and executive at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester.
Walker sued Gill in 2016 after his name and photograph were displayed on The Mortgage Specialists Inc.'s billboard next to the words "Attempted Murder."
Gill, a Derry resident, is president and owner of the mortgage company and placed the messages on electronic billboards outside his offices in Manchester, Nashua and Plaistow.
His messages, which were ordered to be removed by the court, have targeted politicians, judges, lawyers and others whom he accuses of corruption. He also posts the allegations on his website, stateofcorruption.org, and has a large following on Facebook.
A Merrimack County jury last year awarded $274.5 million to three Manchester-area businessmen who sued Gill over defamation on billboards, radio programs and social media.
During questioning from his attorney, Dan Will, Walker testified about the impact the messages have had on him and his family, saying it's been "pervasive" and "unrelenting."
"He has not shown any propensity to change course and to curb his behavior and to curb his language," Walker said of Gill.
He also testified that Gill has shown no respect for the court or the law.
"He shows zero regard for me and my family and the community we live in," he said.
Will tossed out estimates on the millions of vehicles that have driven by the billboards and seen the messages and millions more who have viewed them online.
"It's a staggering number," Walker said.
The $100 million in damages represents $1 for each time someone likely saw the messages, Will said.
Walker testified that the lawsuit isn't about money, but sending a message.
"The reason I brought this lawsuit is to take a stand and say enough is enough to what was happening," he said.
Delker is expected to issue his finding in the case in the coming weeks.