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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- Attorney Keith Barton allegedly traded on the success of the family business to rack up $40 million in debt, a lawsuit filed against him contends.
Barton was the public face for Gregory, Barton & Swapp P.C., a family owned firm which was widely known for its "One Call, That's All" slogan. The firm dissolved earlier this year in a bitter public squabble.
The lawsuit is the second filed against Barton by his sister-in-law Kim Brown, who is trying to recoup $1.2 million in unpaid fees she says Barton owes her advertising agency, Kim Brown & Associates. An earlier lawsuit claiming fraud on Barton's part was partially dismissed in August.
Court documents filed Thursday in 4th District Court allege Barton used the firm's assets to fund a lavish lifestyle, which included construction of a 25,000 square-foot Alpine mansion, private dance lessons from special Russian instructors, regular shopping trips to New York, chartered jet vacations and private security for himself and his home.
Brown also claims Barton kept creditors at bay by lying about the firm's ability to pay its debts and promising payments once the firm received settlements from pending product liability cases.
"By October 2003, Barton was carrying approximately $40 million in debt and the law firm had bounced 182 checks to its creditors and vendors, because he was drawing out money above and beyond what the firm was able to pay," Brown's attorney Sean Egan said.
Josh Ewing, a spokesman for Barton, declined comment on the lawsuit, saying he did not have enough information. Neither Barton nor his attorney Peggy Tomsic could be reached for comment.
In July, a judge approved the dissolution of Gregory, Barton & Swapp.
Barton has since formed his own firm, Keith Barton and Associates. The remaining family members reorganized as Gregory & Swapp PLLC. The dissolution includes the sale of 1,500 personal injury cases being handled by the firm.
Information from: The Daily Herald, http://www.heraldextra.com
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)