Attorney Dale Buchanan is suing his son over the operation of their successful firm helping individuals get on government disability.
The Circuit Court complaint claims that Michael Buchanan has put a number of family members on the payroll of Dale Buchanan and Associates.
The suit says Dale Buchanan, a former staff attorney with the Social Security Administration, founded Dale Buchanan and Associates in 1983 and built the Chattanooga-based firm into one of the largest of its kinds in the Southeast.
He hired his son in 2003 upon his graduation from law school in Memphis.
The suit says there was an agreement that Michael Buchanan would eventually become the firm's sole shareholder and operate it. Dale Buchanan was to get an annual salary of $350,000, a bonus based on the firm's profit, and certain fringe benefits.
Dale Buchanan in 2015 sued his son, saying that Michael Buchanan had used Dale Buchanan and Associates to conduct his personal affairs and had under-capitalized it That suit was settled in 2016 with Dale Buchanan to get $975,000 over seven years, but Dale Buchanan said he is still not getting the agreed-upon payments.
The new suit, filed by attorney Ira Long Jr., says Michael Buchanan hired his wife, Amanda Faith Buchanan, a non-lawyer, and made her chief executive officer. It says he provided her with an office "which she very rarely visited," and a Maserati luxury automobile. It says the payment to her of hundreds of thousands of dollars is "an exorbitant waste of the firm's assets."
It says Michael Buchanan also hired his wife's sister, Charity Rhodes, as chief operating officer. It says the firm has "grossly overpaid" her, including furnishing her with a Mercedes.
The complaint says Michael Buchanan hired his wife's father Stan "Hoolie" Tidwell, brother Justin "Bubba" Tidwell, and his brother-in-law, Gordon "Gord" Rhodes.
It says Michael Buchanan hired his daughter and her friends as interns "though none performed any significant work" for the firm.
The suit claims that Michael Buchanan paid an interior designer, Nate Galui, with firm assets to decorate his residence and other non-firm property. It says Nate Galui is a friend of Amanda Buchanan.
The complaint says a substantial amount of firm assets were diverted to Flying B. Development, which developed a building at 232 11th St, including a restaurant operated by Amanda Buchanan.
It says Michael Buchanan diverted funds from the firm to pay for improvements to houses he owns on East Brow Road on Signal Mountain and on Nickajack Lake at South Pittsburg.
The suit says firm funds were used to pay for vacations for Amanda Buchanan and members of her family.