Law firm moves to include Buske divorce settlement in resulting legal malpractice case
Sara Buske's former divorce attorneys want to make a settlement they secured for her in 2009 fair game as discovery gets under way in the legal malpractice case she filed against them.
The Springfield-based law firm of Feldman, Wasser, Draper & Cox on March 15 filed for a protective order in the 2010 suit filed by their former client.
The protective order would allow the firm to utilize the confidential divorce settlement between Sara Buske, her ex-husband Thomas Buske, and SC Johnson and Sons Inc., in the suit's discovery and trial.
Sara Buske is suing the Feldman firm and the St. Louis-based accounting firm of RSM McGladrey for damages in excess of $50,000 and other relief.
The 2010 suit stems from her 2008 divorce and the parts that both firms played in it.
The Feldman firm represented Sara Buske in the divorce.
Sara Buske filed to divorce her husband of more than a decade eight days after a $203.8 million civil judgment was entered against Thomas Buske in Wisconsin court.
SC Johnson sought the judgment alleging that Thomas Buske defrauded the company of millions using inflated invoices from his trucking concerns.
Thomas Buske also faced federal charges in connection with the SC Johnson invoices.
SC Johnson sought to intervene in the Madison County divorce claiming it was orchestrated to hide assets owed to it.
Criminal proceedings remain ongoing in the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
The company pointed to the fact that the Buskes continued to live together for nearly a year after the divorce's filing and joint trips they took to Las Vegas and other locations.
The company also asked the court to order the production of a prenuptial agreement the Buskes signed that it claimed would prove the divorce was a sham.
The parties settled the divorce before that pre-nuptial agreement was produced in open court.
Under the settlement approved by Madison County Associate Judge Thomas Chapman, Sara Buske received $325,000.
A trust totaling $425,000 was set up for the Buskes' children.
Thomas Buske was allowed to keep $50,000 in personal property.
SC Johnson got the remainder of the Buske assets.
Sara Buske alleges in her 2010 suit that attorney Howard Feldman, her lead counsel in the divorce, botched the case and committed malpractice by failing to disclose the existence of the pre-nuptial agreement.
RSM McGladrey served as her accountants during the divorce proceedings.
Sara Buske claims that her accountants gave her bad tax advice in relation to joint returns she filed with Thomas Buske and what tax implications the divorce and Wisconsin judgment would have on her.
Both the law firm and the accounting firm have filed motions to dismiss the case.
The Feldman firm alleges that Sara Buske knew about the pre-nuptial agreement and that she was responsible for the end result of the divorce.
The accounting firm contends that the plaintiff does not plead any specific damages she allegedly suffered.
In the March 15 filing for the protective order, the law firm argues that the divorce settlement is central to the suit and asks to be allowed to use it.
AJ Bronsky represents the Feldman firm. Daniel Konicek is co-counsel.
Jarrod Beasley represents Sara Buske.
Jonathan King entered his appearance as lead counsel for RSM McGladrey recently.
Al Pranaitis also represents the accounting firm.
Andrew Velloff, Thomas Keefe Jr. and Jeffrey Willian are listed in the March 15 filing as counsel for SC Johnson.
Vicki Cochran and others represented Thomas Buske in the divorce.
Madison County Associate Judge Duane Bailey also oversaw the Buske divorce.
The 2010 lawsuit is assigned to Madison County Circuit Judge Andreas Matoesian.
The Buske divorce is Madison case number 08-D-560.
The resulting lawsuit filed by Sara Buske last year is Madison case number 10-L-1211.