Mudge bows out of Buske legal malpractice case; second judge to step out since April 8

Amelia Flood Apr. 13, 2011, 8:56am


Two Madison County circuit judges have bowed out of a legal malpractice case filed by Sara Buske against her divorce attorney and accountants within a week of each other.

Madison County Circuit Judge Andreas Matoesian had been set to hear motions to dismiss and a motion asking for the production of Sara Buske's prenuptial agreement on April 8.

However, the judge signed an order that day recusing himself from the suit. Matoesian wrote that the "main witness" in the dispute was a friend of his.

That witness was not further identified.

The case was then sent to Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis who handed it over to Madison County Circuit Judge William Mudge.

Mudge had the suit less than 48 hours before he bowed out in an order signed Tuesday.

In that order, Mudge cited Supreme Court Rule 63 as his reason for withdrawing.

Rule 63 governs the impartiality of judges.

The case is now back on Callis' watch until she assigns it to another judge.

Buske's 2010 legal malpractice case against the Springfield-based law firm of Feldman, Wasser, Draper & Cox and RSM McGladrey accounting firm in St. Louis, stems from her 2008 divorce.

Sara Buske filed for divorce eight days after a Wisconsin court entered a $203.8 million civil judgment against her then-husband, Thomas Buske.

The judgment was entered on claims that Thomas Buske used inflated invoices from his trucking companies to defraud S.C. Johnson and Sons Inc. of millions.

Federal criminal charges remain pending against Thomas Buske in connection with the incident.

S.C. Johnson filed to intervene in the Madison County divorce claiming it was scheme meant to hide assets owed under the Wisconsin judgment.

S.C. Johnson's case centered on the Buskes' prenuptial agreement.

The company filed moves with the court asking for its production.

The parties settled before the document was produced.

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

Sara Buske received $325,000.

The Buskes' children received $425,000 in trust.

S.C. Johnson took the remainder of the Buske assets to satisfy the judgment.

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

Howard Feldman of the Feldman firm represented Sara Buske in the divorce.

Her 2010 malpractice suit claims that he botched the divorce case and mishandled the prenuptial agreement.

The claims against RSM McGladrey allege the accounting firm gave Sara Buske bad tax advice during the divorce.

Both defendants have moved to dismiss the case.

The law firm also filed a motion asking that the pre-nuptial agreement be used during discovery and during the suit's trial.

No new hearing date has been set in the suit to date.

A May case management conference remains on the suit's docket sheet.

Vicki Cochran and others represented Thomas Buske in the divorce.

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

Jarrod Beasley represents Sara Buske in the malpractice suit.

Al Pranaitis represents RSM McGladrey.

A.J. Bronsky represents the Feldman firm.

The lawsuit is Madison case number 10-L-1211.

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

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