Former beer mogul offers $1.5 million in girlfriend's death

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 20, 2011 2:33 PM
Former beer mogul offers $1.5 million in girlfriend's death

By Bruce Olsen

ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - August Busch IV, the former chief of the Budweiser beer empire whose girlfriend died of a drug overdose at his mansion in December, has offered $1.5 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by her family, an attorney for the woman's son said on Wednesday.

The settlement could be the final chapter in the death of Adrienne Martin, 27, who died December 19 at the Busch mansion from a fatal dose of the painkiller oxycodone, an autopsy showed. The autopsy also showed Martin had a deadly level of cocaine in her blood when she died in a bedroom at mansion in a posh St. Louis suburb.

St. Louis County prosecutors ruled the overdose to be accidental and filed no criminal charges against Busch, 46, the last member of his family to run Anheuser-Busch brewing before it was sold to Belgian brewer InBev in 2008.

The 2008 sale earned Busch about $100 million. He has since said he will step down from the company's board of directors, ending his family involvement that began in 1864 and made the company the world's largest beer brewer.

Since the sale, Busch, once active in St. Louis social and brewing circles, divorced his wife and took a low profile in the city where he is often referred to as "The Fourth."

Following the decision by prosecutors not to pursue criminal charges, members of Martin's family, including her ex-husband, filed a wrongful-death suit on behalf of Martin's 8-year-old son, Blake, claiming Busch had been negligent.

An attorney for Busch told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Busch had offered $1.5 million to settle the suit while admitting no wrongdoing. The attorney, who was not available for further comment, said Busch wanted to make sure Blake Martin was taken care of.

The attorney for the son, John Heisserer, confirmed the Busch offer and said a hearing was scheduled May 10 before Circuit Court Judge William Syler at Cape Girardeau, Mo. The hearing will determine if the settlement is in the best interests of the child and how the money will be allocated.

The woman's parents -- George Eby of Springfield, Mo., and Christina Trampler of Ozark, Mo., -- are also eligible for funds from the settlement.

Busch had some legal problems when he was young, including a 1983 car crash in Tucson, Arizona. where he was cleared of any wrongdoing in the death of a 22-year-old woman, who died in the accident.

(Reporting by Bruce Olson, Editing by James B. Kelleher and Greg McCune)