Family Feud Erupts at Longtime Charlotte Nursery Company

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Baucom’s Nursery Co., a family-owned business that has been a staple in Charlotte for over 75 years, is embroiled in a bitter legal battle. The lawsuit pits Amon (Chip) Baucom Jr.’s side of the family against Gary Baucom’s side, with accusations of fraud, embezzlement, and self-enrichment flying.

The dispute centers around allegations of financial mismanagement by Gary Baucom’s family, which controls the current company leadership. The plaintiffs, who represent Chip’s estate (Chip passed away in 2023) and other shareholders, claim that the defendants have been self-dealing, paying themselves excessive compensation, and diverting company funds for personal gain.

Here are some of the key allegations in the lawsuit:

  • Excessive Compensation: The lawsuit alleges that Gary Baucom, Eric Baucom, Cory Baucom, Christopher Baucom, and Jennifer Baucom have all received excessive compensation as Baucom’s Nursery Co. employees. The complaint specifically alleges that some of those salaries more than doubled from 2020 to 2022 without disclosure to the Board of Directors.
  • Misuse of Company Funds: The plaintiffs allege that the defendants have used company funds for personal expenses, including meals, shopping, entertainment, and even a personal beach rental.
  • Unauthorized Transfers: The lawsuit alleges that Baucom’s Nursery Co. illicitly transferred money to a separate company, Baucom’s Leasing Co., which is owned by the Gary Baucom family, without proper approval or disclosure.
  • Loans to Personal Businesses: The lawsuit alleges that Baucom’s Nursery Co. loaned money to Green Gardens II, a separate LLC established by Gary Baucom, at below-market interest rates. Again, the complaint alleges that the defendants made these purported loans without any disclosure or approval.

The complaint alleges both individual claims and derivative claims (in a derivative claim, the claim belongs to—or derives from—the company, not the individual, so the individual is only able to sue through their interest in the company). Among others, the claims include breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, constructive fraud, and embezzlement. The plaintiffs have also asked the North Carolina Business Court to appoint a receiver to oversee Baucom’s Nursery Co.’s business operations and for the eventual involuntary dissolution of the company. A full copy of the complaint is accessible through a search on the Business Court’s public access page:

The defendants deny the allegations and say they have acted in the best interests of the company. They plan to vigorously defend themselves in court.

This lawsuit involves issues that are, unfortunately, all too common in closely held businesses. As a family business is passed down through trusts and estates, the relationships between shareholders can become increasingly fraught and complex. The attorneys at Lord & Lindley have deep experience handling precisely the kinds of litigation in this case. If you have an estate litigation issue or a shareholder dispute, please give us a call at 704-405-1010 to see how we can help.  For more information regarding our firm, practice areas, and attorneys, please visit our website here.

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