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Newport Entrepreneur's Death Baffles Community : Crime: Police are investigating victim's dealings. Neighbors believe the shooting was not a random act.

December 22, 1994|LESLIE BERKMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

By mid-1986, the FDA gave marketing approval and Baxter was ready to buy the technology. Schoendorfer said only about 100,000 blood separators had been sold before the Baxter acquisition, but within two years annual sales had reached 2 million units, soaring now to about 9 million.

In the last four years of his life, however, McLaughlin's glory was tarnished by mounting troubles.

In 1990, Susan McLaughlin, his wife of 24 years, filed for divorce, triggering a lengthy legal battle over the family assets.

In court records, Susan McLaughlin described her husband as "very controlling and domineering," and accused him of trying to bully her into accepting a $1-million settlement before a full accounting of the community property.

In the final divorce settlement, court records show, she received assets worth about $4.5 million, including the family's second home in Hawaii and future annual payments of $300,000.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday December 23, 1994 Orange County Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Column 6 Orange County Focus Desk 1 inches; 35 words Type of Material: Correction
Murder site--William F. McLaughlin was found shot to death Dec. 15 in his home in the community of Balboa Coves, located close to Pacific Coast Highway between Balboa and Newport boulevards in Newport Beach. A story Thursday gave the wrong location.

William McLaughlin got the two-story house in Balboa Coves, a 21-acre avocado ranch in Fallbrook, a Piper Malibu airplane, two Mercedes-Benzes and the right to all future earnings and royalties from HemaScience Laboratories Inc., the company that merged with Baxter. Court records show he was earning $100,000 a month.

Also in 1990, Fischel sued McLaughlin and Baxter, contending he had been cheated out of his fair share of royalties. At stake in the pending lawsuit, according to McLaughlin's attorney, Paul Gale, are millions of dollars.

For four years, the lawsuit has been in arbitration in San Francisco. The hearings, which ended in May, were "extremely contentious and extended," Gale said, and consumed much of William McLaughlin's life.

Now awaiting the arbitration panel's decision, Gale said he is pleased by a preliminary statement the panel issued last month that seems to favor William McLaughlin's position.

Fischel could not be reached for comment and his attorney declined to discuss details of the case.

The high-stakes royalty litigation coincided with yet another family crisis for McLaughlin. In October, 1991, just five days into the hearings, he was called home from San Francisco because his son--he also has two grown daughters--had been struck by an automobile while skateboarding.

Kevin McLaughlin, initially in a coma, was hospitalized for many months.

Brian Ringler, William McLaughlin's accountant, recalled that McLaughlin visited the hospital as often as possible, talking to his son to draw him back to consciousness and rejoicing with every sign of progress.

"He never gave up," Ringler said.

At the time of William McLaughlin's murder, his son, still struggling with his speech and motor skills, was living with him.

Ringler recalled a conversation he had with William McLaughlin shortly before the murder. He was "very upbeat and relaxed," Ringler said, and sent "a hug and a kiss" to Ringler's three small children.

"How could it be that someone who appears so nice and so giving could have something like this happen to him?" he said. "It does not make any sense."

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