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Rosemann v. Sigillito

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

May 4, 2015

Phil Rosemann, Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
Martin Sigillito, Defendant - Appellee

Submitted January 15, 2015.

Page 1176

Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri - St. Louis.

For Phil Rosemann, Plaintiff - Appellant: Jonathan F. Andres, Green & Jacobson, Saint Louis, MO; Sebastian Rucci, Law Office of Sebastian Rucci, Long Beach, CA.

For Martin Sigillito, Defendant - Appellee: Thomas Joseph Plunkert, Leritz & Plunkert, Saint Louis, MO.

Before COLLOTON, BEAM, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 1177

KELLY, Circuit Judge.

Phil Rosemann appeals the district court's adverse grant of summary judgment in this diversity action alleging legal malpractice against now-disbarred attorney Martin Sigillito. We agree with the district court[1] that in negligence cases like this one, Missouri law requires expert-witness testimony about the duty of care owed. Without providing an expert, Rosemann's claim is invalid. Thus, we affirm the judgment.[2]

I. Background

The following facts are construed in the light most favorable to Rosemann, the non-moving party. Quinn v. St. Louis County, 653 F.3d 745, 750 (8th Cir. 2011). Rosemann hired Sigillito in 2002 to help him invest millions of dollars from the sale of Rosemann's shares in a family business, after Sigillito falsely informed Rosemann that he was an expert in international investments. Sigillito assured Rosemann that there would be no risk in investing the money in a foreign company and that Rosemann's interest would be protected. As part of this investment, Sigillito charged Rosemann $15,000 to incorporate Braithwaite Consulting Limited, a Belize company; Braithwaite purportedly would invest the money to reduce taxes on the investment. Rosemann was elected director and secretary of Braithwaite.

In January 2007, Rosemann received a $15.6 million buyout from the sales of shares of his family's company. Sigillito instructed Rosemann to loan $5 million of the buyout to METAG Insaat Ticaret A.S., a Turkish contractor, referred to by both parties as " Metis." When Rosemann resisted, Sigillito told him " the loan was guaranteed by [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] contracts and that Sigillito would structure the deal to protect Rosemann and defer taxes." Sigillito assured Rosemann the NATO contracts could be seized if Metis did not repay the loan. Rosemann transferred the entire $15.6 million to Sigillito, who then wrote a $5 million check to Metis. For that service, Sigillito charged Rosemann $100,000. Sigillito took other portions of the $15.6 million for his own use and loaned $10.8 million to another party in England. Only approximately $2.75 million was repaid.

Two years later, in January 2009, Metis defaulted on the loan. In September 2009, Metis filed for bankruptcy protection in Turkey. Sigillito filed suit against Metis but assigned Braithwaite's interest to a St. Louis-based company owned by Sigillito. The district court in St. Louis transferred that lawsuit to New York because of venue problems. The suit eventually was dismissed. The loan remains in default, and according to Rosemann, the total owed in principal and interest is $7,464,041.

In April 2012, Sigillito was convicted of nine counts of wire fraud, four counts of mail fraud, six counts of money laundering, and one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. He was sentenced to a total term of 480 months' imprisonment. See Unite ...


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