CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. • August Busch IV won a round today in a wrongful-death civil suit against him when a judge here refused to move the case.
Busch was sued last year on behalf of the minor son of his girlfriend, Adrienne Martin, who died of a drug overdose at Busch’s mansion on Dec 19, 2010. The suit was filed by the child’s father, Dr. Kevin Martin, in St. Louis County and quickly transferred to Cape Girardeau, where Kevin Martin was living.
Kevin Martin agreed to settle the case for $1.5 million, but that was thwarted last year when the parents of Adrienne Martin — Christine Trampler and Larry Eby — sought to join the suit.
Judge William Syler denied their request to intervene, but an appeals court overturned his decision. As plaintiffs, the parents sought to return the case to St. Louis County, saying it offered closer proximity for witnesses.
John Heisserer, the lawyer representing Martin, said in court he moved the case out of the St. Louis area out of concern for possible bias in Busch’s favor. Busch is the former chief executive Anheuser-Busch and a member of a family long considered St. Louis royalty.
Lawyers representing Eby and Trampler said they did not consent to the transfer and had a right to object.
Maurice Graham, Busch’s attorney, argued against a move, saying the venue decision was made and should stand.
Syler sided with Busch; Martin’s parents can still appeal.
Both sides indicated that settlement negotiations have been ongoing. Heisserer asked Syler to approve the $1.5 million settlement to which his client already agreed. Syler showed interest in resolving that matter, but put the motion on hold.
Martin’s attorneys can still take limited depositions. The judge said he figured Busch would reject such an inquiry by invoking a constitutional right against self-incrimination.
“I couldn’t imagine that he wouldn’t just take the fifth,” Syler said.
Busch was never charged with any crime in Adrienne Martin’s death.