Accounting firm moves to dismiss Sara Buske's malpractice suit

Amelia Flood Feb. 23, 2011, 6:46am


Sara Buske's accountants are asking a Madison County judge to throw out a suit brought on claims that it gave her bad tax advice during her divorce.

St. Louis-based RSM McGladrey Inc. filed its appearance in the 2010 suit on Feb. 23, as well as a motion to dismiss.

Buske is suing RSM and her divorce attorneys, the Springfield firm of Feldman, Wasser, Draper & Cox, for damages in excess of $50,000 and other relief.

While Buske claims that the accounting firm's malpractice led her to incur tax damages, the accounting firm counters that she has not sufficiently pled what, if any, damages she has suffered.

The 2010 lawsuit relates to Buske's 2008 divorce from her husband of more than a decade, Thomas Buske.

She filed for divorce eight days after a Wisconsin court entered a $203.8 million civil judgment against Thomas Buske on behalf of S.C. Johnson and Sons, Inc.

The company claimed that Thomas Buske defrauded it by using inflated invoices from his trucking concerns.

Thomas Buske was also facing federal charges in Wisconsin in connection with that alleged scheme.

S.C. Johnson filed to intervene in the Madison County divorce.

The company alleged it was a sham meant to hide assets owed under the Wisconsin judgment.

The company's argument largely centered on a pre-nuptial agreement that was never produced in open court.

Although the company filed moves to force the production of the document, the divorce was settled before that happened.

Sara Buske received $325,000.

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

Thomas Buske received $50,000 in personal property.

The rest of the Buskes' assets went to S.C. Johnson to satisfy the Wisconsin judgment.

In the 2010 lawsuit, Sara Buske alleges that her attorney, Howard Feldman, committed malpractice by failing to disclose the existence of the pre-nuptial agreement and by allegedly botching her divorce.

She claims that cost her settlement money.

In her claims against the accounting firm, Sara Buske contends that RSM negligently had her file a joint tax return for 2008 when it was aware of her divorce and the Wisconsin judgment.

She claims RSM also failed to properly advise her on the tax implications of the divorce and the judgment.

In its Feb. 22 motion to dismiss the claims against it, RSM argues that Sara Buske does not specify any damages she may have suffered.

"But, notwithstanding her assertion that she 'sustained significant damages,' Plaintiff actually fails to allege any damages," the motion reads.

The accounting firm argues that Sara Buske does not allege that she paid any tax liability for 2008, that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has not levied or seized her property and that there have been no IRS proceedings to enter a lien against her.

"In short, the Complaint does not even remotely establish that Plaintiff will ever sustain a loss in this case," the motion reads.

The Feldman firm has also moved to dismiss the suit.

Madison County Circuit Judge Andreas Matoesian presides.

Jarrod Beasley represents Sara Buske.

A.J. Bronsky represents the law firm.

Al Pranaitis and others represent RSM.

Vicki Cochran represented Thomas Buske in the divorce.

Andrew Velloff and Thomas Keefe Jr. represented S.C. Johnson in the divorce.

Madison County Associate Judges Duane Bailey and Thomas Chapman oversaw the divorce.

The current suit filed by Sara Buske last year is Madison case number 10-L-1211.

The Buske divorce is Madison case number 08-D-560.

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