As a St. Louis wrongful death lawyer, I was saddened to see a series of articles about the death of a young woman at the home of a former Anheuser-Busch executive. August Busch IV had offered a $1.5 million settlement to Blake Martin, the 8-year-old son of Adrienne Nicole Martin. Busch, 47, is a son of the Anheuser-Busch brewing empire and served as CEO of the company until its sale to InBev in 2008. Adrienne Martin was found dead of a cocaine and oxycodone overdose at Busch’s home in December of 2010. Martin’s ex-husband later sued Busch for wrongful death on behalf of their son, and a settlement was in the works until Martin’s parents sought to join the lawsuit. Now, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported June 7 that the settlement will be postponed until a court has time to consider the parents’ appeal.
Adrienne Martin had been dating Busch for nearly a year before her death. After a police investigation, authorities decided that her death was an accidental drug overdose with no foul play. However, her ex-husband, Kevin Martin of Cape Girardeau, filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that Busch had been negligent in his treatment of her. Their attorneys negotiated a $1.5 million settlement intended to benefit Blake Martin, her son. But before that settlement was completed, Adrienne Martin’s divorced parents stepped in. Christine Trampler and George Eby joined the wrongful death suit, claiming part of the settlement. The judge in the case denied their request to join, but they plan to appeal and the settlement is on hold until a higher court can consider that appeal.
As a wrongful death attorney in Missouri, I’d like to discuss a specific issue raised by this case: Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit? According to state law, the people with the strongest claim are the spouse, children, grandchildren and parents of the deceased. If there’s no relative in that category, sisters and brothers may make claims; and if there is no sibling, a court-appointed representative of the estate can sometimes step in. Thus, Kevin Martin has no claim, but Blake Martin and both parents do. It’s unclear whether the parents would get less priority than the little boy, but as a rule, lack of custody or support doesn’t bar parents from filing suit. This is all separate from the practical considerations about financial support for the child. I hope the appeals court takes those into account as well as caselaw when it decides the parents’ appeal.
Based in St. Louis, Carey, Danis & Lowe represents clients around Missouri and southern Illinois who were seriously injured or lost a loved one in a accident caused by someone else’s negligence. That includes carelessness, law-breaking and other behavior showing reckless disregard for people nearby. When this kind of behavior causes car wrecks, accidents in the workplace and other serious accidents, the cost in both money and human suffering can be very high. Our southern Illinois personal injury lawyers help injured people return those costs to the negligent people who caused them. In a lawsuit, victims can claim all of the financial losses of their accidents, including related medical costs, lost income and more, as well as compensation for their pain, emotional trauma and any lost abilities or other permanent injury.
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