Sara Buske sues divorce attorney, accounting firm

Amelia Flood Dec. 6, 2010, 5:12am


Sara Buske, one of the parties in a contentious divorce that saw the intervention of household products maker S.C. Johnson, has filed suit against the law firm that represented her in that divorce and her accountants.

Sara Buske filed suit against the Springfield-based law firm of Feldman, Wasser, Draper & Cox and St. Louis accounting firm RSM McGladrey, Inc. on Dec. 2.

In her suit, Sara Buske claims both the law firm and accounting firm were negligent in matters related to her divorce from her husband of more than a decade, Thomas Buske.

That divorce was finalized last year after a year of drawn-out, often heated hearings.

Sara Buske filed for divorce eight days after a $203.8 million civil judgment was entered against Thomas Buske in Wisconsin federal court.

Thomas Buske was sued by S.C. Johnson and Sons Inc. for allegedly defrauding the company of millions using inflated invoices from his trucking companies.

Thomas Buske faced federal criminal charges in Wisconsin as well at the time of the divorce.

S.C. Johnson filed to intervene in the divorce claiming that it was a sham used by both Buskes to hide money owed to the company under the Wisconsin judgment.

Eventually, the parties worked out a settlement last December.

Under that settlement, Sara Buske received $325,000.

A trust containing $425,000 was set up for the Buskes' children.

Thomas Buske was allowed to keep $50,000 in personal property under the settlement.

The bulk of Thomas Buske's assets went to S.C. Johnson to satisfy the Wisconsin judgment.

In her new suit, Sara Buske claims that her divorce attorney, Howard Feldman, failed to disclose the existence of a pre-nuptial agreement during the divorce proceedings.

That pre-nuptial agreement was at one time the center of S.C. Johnson's contention that the divorce was fraudulent, according to court filings asking for its production and statements made by S.C. Johnson attorney Andrew Velloff.

Sara Buske alleges that Howard Feldman failed to challenge the pre-nuptial agreement and filed false pleadings denying its existence.

She further claims her attorney failed to advise his client of the implications of filing a joint tax return during the pendency of the divorce in spite of being advised by multiple people that its filing would have an adverse effect upon Sara Buske's case.

The plaintiff claims that due to the alleged negligence she sustained significant damages because her credibility in the divorce proceedings was damaged.

In the negligence count against the Feldman firm, Sara Buske seeks damages in excess of $50,000.

She alleges that RSM McGladrey was negligent in that it was aware of the Wisconsin judgment against Thomas Buske and the federal charges pending against him but still filed a joint return for the couple.

The plaintiff claims that the accounting firm was aware Thomas Buske's assets were frozen by court order and that he could not pay any tax liability.

She further claims that RSM McGladrey failed to advise her of her filing options and tax implications of each, failed to file her taxes separately from her then-husband's, and failed to advise her both of the impact of the joint return on her divorce and the potential personal liability she held in light of the charges against Thomas Buske and the $203.8 million judgment.

Sara Buske seeks $50,000 in damages from the accounting firm for one count of negligence.

Jarrod Beasley represents Sara Buske in the two count suit.

The Buske divorce is Madison case number 08-D-560. Madison County Associate Judge Thomas Chapman and Madison County Associate Judge Duane Bailey both presided over the Buske divorce at points.

Chapman was the judge who oversaw the divorce's settlement last year.

Vicki Cochran, Christopher Byron and others represented Thomas Buske in the divorce.

Velloff, Thomas Keefe Jr. and others represented S.C. Johnson.

The new lawsuit filed Dec. 2 is Madison case number 10-L-1211.

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