Victim's parents can join death suit against ex-U.S. beer baron

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 04, 2012 4:18 PM
Victim's parents can join death suit against ex-U.S. beer baron

By Bruce Olson

(Reuters) - The parents of a woman who died of a drug overdose in the St. Louis mansion of August Busch IV will be allowed to join the wrongful-death lawsuit against the former beer baron, officials said on Wednesday.

Busch, 47, had asked the Missouri Supreme Court to bar the parents of Adrienne Martin from participating in the case and in the proposed $1.5 million settlement he reached with Martin's ex-husband on behalf of the couple's son.

But the state high court refused to intervene and let stand an appellate ruling that Martin's parents should have a role in the lawsuit and in any settlement negotiations.

The ruling also raises the possibility that Martin's parents will be allowed to question Busch, who has never been deposed in the civil case.

Martin, a 27-year-old former model, died December 19, 2010, in a bedroom in Busch's gated mansion from an accidental overdose of the painkiller oxycodone, authorities ruled last year.

An autopsy conducted by St. Louis County also showed a high level of cocaine in her blood. A hole in the lining of her nose indicated months of cocaine use before her death, authorities said.

Prosecutors filed no criminal charges against Busch, the last member of his family to run Anheuser-Busch brewing before it was sold in 2008 to InBev for $100 million.

Martin's ex-husband brought the wrongful death suit on behalf of Blake Martin, the couple's 9-year-old son.

Busch offered to settle that suit last year for $1.5 million. But the settlement was challenged by the woman's parents - Christine Trampler of Ozark, Missouri, and George "Larry" Eby of Springfield, Missouri - who sought to join the case.

Busch could now withdraw the settlement offer or the case could return to the original circuit court in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where it would be reviewed again, this time with the parents' involvement.

(Editing by James B. Kelleher and Philip Barbara)