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Maglicas Reach a Palimony Settlement

Flashlight mogul agrees to pay $29 million to his former companion. The out-of-court agreement comes midway in new trial after a previous judgment was thrown out.

March 14, 2000|RICHARD MAROSI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ending one of the nation's most contentious and costly palimony battles, flashlight mogul Anthony Maglica has agreed to pay $29 million to his former companion of 20 years, Claire Maglica, a woman he never married but who claims to have helped him build his multimillion-dollar company.

The settlement reached last week represents a fraction of the $84 million awarded to Claire Maglica by an Orange County jury in 1994. Believed to be the highest-ever palimony judgment, the award was thrown out by an appeals court that ordered a new trial.

Attorneys said the Maglicas agreed to an out-of-court settlement halfway into the two-month trial after several juror dismissals raised the specter of a mistrial, and another delay in the long-running case.

"Ms. Maglica views this as peace," said John Keker, Claire Maglica's attorney. "She settled because she decided that peace was more important than getting all that she deserved."

Claire Maglica's claim on half of Anthony Maglica's Ontario-based company--valued at $750 million by one estimate--hindered its growth for years, said his attorney, Robert C. Weiss. The settlement, he said, will allow the 69-year-old Anaheim Hills resident to expand his firm, which produces the popular Mag-Lite flashlight.

"It makes sense for him to move forward, and more or less complete his dream of having a $1-billion company," Weiss said.

Weiss said Anthony Maglica has provided Claire Maglica $7,000 in monthly support payments and allowed her to live in his Newport Beach home during the litigation. He said the settlement is a one-time payout and he no longer needs to provide her financial support.

Anthony Maglica, the son of Croatian immigrants, opened a machine shop in 1955 that blossomed into a multimillion-dollar business that makes flashlights especially popular with police officers. He met Claire Maglica, 65, in the early 1970s and eventually appointed her the company's executive vice president.

Though they were never married, Claire Maglica shared Anthony's last name and the two were known as husband and wife among the Orange County social elite. They lived in Anthony Maglica's Anaheim Hills' home for more than 20 years.

The Maglicas' relationship soured in 1992 when Claire Maglica discovered her companion planned on leaving the company to his children. At the 1994 trial Claire Maglica said that she and Anthony vowed repeatedly during their years together to live "out of one pocket."

Anthony Maglica, who had gone through one bitter divorce battle, asserted that he never promised Claire anything and that she had knowingly signed a property agreement stating that the company was his.

Claire Maglica, who was seeking $200 million, was awarded $84 million at the trial. That judgment was thrown out by an appeals court that ruled the judge had given errant jury instructions.

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