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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Busch OKs $1.5 million Settle Wrongful-Death Lawsuit UPDATE: Adrienne Martin's son Files Wrongful-death suit against August Busch IV UPDATE: Busch Girlfriend Died with Cocaine, Oxycodone in System

Busch OKs $1.5 million payment to settle suit

  BY NICHOLAS J.C. PISTOR
post-dispatch.com  
April 20, 2011
HUNTLEIGH • Ex-beer baron August Busch IV has agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit over the accidental drug overdose death of his girlfriend, Adrienne Martin, at his mansion, according to court records.
The proposed settlement, which is subject to judicial review next month, is a negotiated agreement between attorneys for Busch and Dr. Kevin Martin, the ex-husband of Adrienne Martin and father of her 8-year-old son.
The lawsuit, filed late last month, alleges that Busch was negligent in the death of Adrienne Martin, 27, and seeks damages for her son, Blake Alexander Martin. Dr. Kevin Martin is a plaintiff on his son's behalf.
A motion for judicial approval was filed Friday in court in Cape Girardeau, Mo., where Martin lives.
Judge William Syler will decide if the settlement is in the best interest of the child. If he approves it, the judge could allocate a portion of the proceeds to Adrienne Martin's parents.
Maurice B. Graham, the St. Louis attorney representing Busch, told the Post-Dispatch on Tuesday that the settlement is not an admission of negligence.
"Mr. Busch has made a decision to put this behind him and to avoid lengthy litigation, but most importantly, to help Blake Martin," Graham said. "He does not feel he has any responsibility for Ms. Martin's unfortunate death, but he does feel strongly he wants to help this young man. He is concerned, however, that Blake Martin's grandparents are seeking to receive part of the settlement intended for Blake."
Adrienne Martin's father, George "Larry" Eby, is seeking to join the suit and says he's been deprived of the "companionship, comfort, instruction, guidance, counsel and training of Adrienne Martin." The judge will take up that issue when considering the settlement.
Eby, who had been estranged from Martin in her adult years, has referred all questions to Matthew Placzek, his attorney. Placzek has declined to discuss the case in the past and could not be reached Tuesday.
Christine Trampler, Adrienne Martin's mother, has told the Post-Dispatch previously that she intends to seek custody of Blake Martin, although she has yet to take legal action.
Donald Schlapprizzi, a veteran St. Louis trial lawyer who handles wrongful-death cases — but is not involved in this one — said the proposal appeared "generous, but not overly generous."
"It seems fair," said Schlapprizzi. He added that Busch's high-profile status would be reason enough to settle the case to avoid continued media attention.
Schlapprizzi said the judge, if he agreed the settlement was appropriate, would listen to arguments from all sides involved and allocate the $1.5 million based on that.
Legal experts say wrongful-death damages paid to surviving children, in this case Blake Martin, are typically substantially greater than damages paid to surviving parents.
Any money paid to Blake Martin will be overseen by a probate court.
Authorities said that Adrienne Martin's death Dec. 19 in Busch's mansion in Huntleigh was an accident, and that a hole in Martin's nasal septum indicated 'several months to a year of cocaine use."
An autopsy put her cause of death as an overdose of the painkiller oxycodone; officials said she also had a lethal level of cocaine in her blood.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch has said the death was clearly accidental and there was no information on which to base any prosecution. He said that neither Martin nor Busch had a prescription for the oxycodone, and that Busch stopped cooperating with the investigation after his initial police interview.
Busch, 46, was the chief executive of Anheuser-Busch before it was sold to InBev in 2008.
The sale earned Busch about $100 million, and he started collecting about $120,000 a month as a consultant.
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Mar 31, 2011
St. Louis (KSDK ) - A wrongful-death lawsuit has been filed against August Busch IV on behalf of Adrienne Martin's son, Blake Alexander Martin.
The suit was filed by Kevin Martin in St. Louis County Circuit Court.
Read the lawsuit HERE
St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced last month that cocaine and oxycodone were found in Adrienne Martin's system as a result of an accidental overdose and no charges will be filed in the death of the girlfriend of August Busch, IV.
St. Louis County Chief Medical Examiner Mary Case said Martin's death at Busch's home was caused by oxycodone intoxication.
The 27-year-old woman was found dead on the morning of December 19 at Busch's sprawling estate in Huntleigh after spending the night at his home.
McCulloch said Busch awoke at 11:45 a.m. and went to the kitchen to make a breakfast shake. An employee at the home said Busch found Martin unresponsive in bed at 12:30 p.m. Busch and the employee were unable to wake Martin up. Police were called at 1:12 p.m. and were at the scene a minute later. Paramedics followed soon after. Martin was pronounced dead at the scene at 1:26 p.m.
McCulloch said there was no gap in the timeline.
Busch gave an initial statement to investigators after Martin's death, but has not cooperated since, according to McCulloch.
Busch's employee cooperated during the investigation.
Investigators said pill bottles were found around Martin's body at the scene. One had a trace of oxycodone in it and another had a trace of cocaine in it.
McCulloch said neither Busch nor Martin had a prescription for oxycodone.
Investigators tried to determine where the drugs came from, but McCulloch said they had reached a dead end.

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Busch girlfriend died with cocaine, oxycodone in system, sources say

BY NICHOLAS J.C. PISTOR 
Post-Dispatch www.STLtoday.com   
Sunday, February 6, 2011
_________________________________________________________________________

HUNTLEIGH • The 27-year-old woman found dead at the mansion of former Anheuser-Busch chief executive August Busch IV had cocaine and the painkiller oxycodone in her blood, according to a source close to the investigation and her ex-husband.
An official report showing the cause of death of Adrienne Martin won't be released until later this week.
The toxicology results were given to Martin's family on Friday, the former husband, Dr. Kevin Martin, confirmed. Kevin Martin said Saturday that he was surprised at the results because "Adrienne was always very anti-drug."
The source close to the investigation, who did not have authority to release results and asked not to be identified, would not speculate as to whether the drugs caused Adrienne Martin's death seven weeks ago.
Oxycodone is widely recognized by its brand name, OxyContin. It is classified as an opiate analgesic and is said to change the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain, according to the National Institutes of Health.
OxyContin is a slow-release pill, designed to provide pain relief over an extended period. But as a street drug, it is crushed or broken so the user gets the full effect of the painkiller at once, creating a high similar to heroin.
OxyContin has been found in the bloodstreams of several celebrities who died young, including actor Heath Ledger.
No drugs other than the cocaine and oxycodone were found in Martin's system, the source said.
A law enforcement official said several weeks ago that an overdose was suspected.
In an interview last month with the Post-Dispatch, Busch had raised the question of whether Trazodone might have contributed to Martin's death. He and family members said Martin had a prescription for that medicine, which is used for depression or insomnia.
Busch also said at the time that he had been in rehabilitation early in 2010 for depression and "my other issues," but he didn't elaborate.
Dr. Mary Case, the St. Louis County medical examiner, on Friday refused to disclose toxicology results and said she had turned a report over to St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch. He did not return calls seeking comment.
Frontenac Police Chief Tom Becker said Thursday that officers were planning a trip to see Martin's mother in Springfield, Mo., and would possibly give her some "preliminary information." He declined to discuss specifics.
Becker did not respond to subsequent requests for comment.
Busch could not be reached for comment.
His attorney, Arthur Margulis, said Saturday, "Having not actually seen the report, I have no comment at this time."
Kevin Martin, who was divorced from Adrienne Martin last year, has told the Post-Dispatch that she had a heart disorder known as Long QT syndrome, which involves the electrical activity of the heart. He is an osteopathic physician who lives in Cape Girardeau, Mo., and is the father of her 8-year-old son.
Case has said the heart disorder wouldn't turn up in the course of a normal autopsy and would only be discovered through expensive blood tests. It could not be determined whether they were conducted.
Adrienne Martin had been dating Busch for about two years. She was an aspiring model and former Hooters waitress who recently left her job as an office manager at MTO Clean in Wentzville for a new position as an assistant with Pluvius, a small alternative energy company in Ballwin.
Martin was found dead Dec. 19 in a darkened bedroom at Busch's mansion in Huntleigh. There were no signs of trauma to her body, officials said.
Michael Jung, a Busch household employee, called 911 at 1:12 p.m. and said an unresponsive woman wouldn't wake up. He said he wasn't sure if she was alive because it was "dark back there" and he was going to get a light to check.
Emergency responders pronounced Martin dead at 1:26 p.m.
In response to a question about whether drugs were found at the scene, police said in December that they found nothing to suggest a cause of death. They also said the room was dark "due to curtains drawn in the bedroom" and that the room was outfitted with blackout curtains to block the sun.

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