The star of HGTV’s ‘Fixer Upper’ show is being sued for millions by two of his former Magnolia Realty business partners who allege that he defrauded them.
In the 24-page lawsuit filed Thursday in Waco’s 170th State District Court, Chip Gaines’s two former business partners, John L Lewis and Richard L Clark, are seeking more than $1million.
They claim Gaines forced them to accept cheap buyouts and did not tell them that HGTV had decided to broadcast the show, which features the Magnolia brand name and co-stars his 39-year-old interior designer wife Joanna, in order to leave him the sole owner of the company.
Chip Gaines (left) is being sued for millions by his former Magnolia Realty business partners
Gaines’s attorney, Jordan Mayfield, told KWTX that he and his client are ‘confident that these claims will be found to be meritless, and it is disappointing to see people try to take advantage of the hard work and success of Chip and Joanna Gaines’.
Lewis and Clark were equal partners with Gaines in founding Magnolia Real Estate Company in May 2007, the suit claims.
For the first six years, Magnolia Realty largely operated from Waco, Texas, with one real estate agent, according to the suit.
Gaines was allegedly working on a deal with HGTV for months without telling his business partners.
Lewis and Clark claim that Gaines convinced them to sell their shares of Magnolia Realty for $2,500 each before the public announcement that ‘Fixer Upper’ was picked up by HGTV two days later – increasing the value of the company.
John L Lewis and Richard L Clark say he forced them to sell and didn’t tell them about the show
The suit, which also names Magnolia Realty, Scripps Networks Interactive, Scripps networks LLC and High Noon Entertainment which produces the show, claims Gaines told them ‘there are no assets’ and that the company is ‘less than worthless’.
Gaines threatened to start a competing real estate brokerage firm if Lewis and Clark refused to sell their shares of Magnolia Realty, the suit claims.