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UPDATE: Former Anheuser-Busch CEO agrees to settlement in girlfriend's death

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 | 5:04 p.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS — Former Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc. CEO August Busch IV has agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit over his girlfriend's accidental drug overdose death, Busch's lawyer said Wednesday.

A motion seeking approval of the settlement from Cape Girardeau County Circuit Judge William Syler was filed Friday.

Adrienne Martin, 27, a one-time aspiring model, died Dec. 19 at Busch's sprawling estate in suburban St. Louis. An autopsy concluded she overdosed on oxycodone and also had a significant amount of cocaine in her system.

Dr. Kevin Martin of Cape Girardeau, her ex-husband, filed the lawsuit last month on behalf of the couple's 8-year-old son, Blake Martin.

"We believe the settlement is very fair and even generous, but in an effort to ensure Blake's future, we are hopeful the court will approve," Busch's attorney, Art Margulis, said.

John Heisserer, the attorney for Kevin Martin, said, "A settlement has been reached and we're pleased that the case has been resolved."

Syler must determine if the agreement is in the best interest of the child. The judge could also direct some of the proceeds to Adrienne Martin's parents. Adrienne Martin's father, George "Larry" Eby, is seeking to join the suit.

Eby's attorney declined comment on Wednesday.

Maurice Graham, another attorney for Busch, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch 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."

Busch, 46, was the last of a long line of Busch family members to run the company. Against his wishes, the maker of Budweiser, Bud Light and other beers was sold to Belgian brewer InBev in 2008.

Busch's net worth isn't known, but he earned about $100 million from the sale, then began earning $120,000 a month as a consultant to InBev.

Busch told authorities that he awoke about 12:45 p.m. on Dec. 19 and tried to awaken Martin, but she was unresponsive. Martin was pronounced dead at 1:26 p.m.

Martin took the oxycodone five or six hours before she died and cocaine about an hour before, St. Louis County prosecutor McCulloch said. He declined to file charges. He said Busch was largely uncooperative in the investigation, but there was no evidence the overdose was anything but an accident.

Busch has had difficult times before.

While attending the University of Arizona in 1983, Busch left a bar near Tucson, Ariz., with a 22-year-old woman. His black Corvette crashed, and the woman died. Busch, who was found hours later at his home, had suffered a fractured skull and claimed he had amnesia. After a seven-month investigation, authorities declined to press charges, citing a lack of evidence.

Two years later, Busch was acquitted by a St. Louis jury of assault charges resulting from a police chase that ended with an officer shooting out a tire on his Mercedes-Benz.

Busch has called Martin's death the saddest time of his life.


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