Court: Parents can join wrongful death suit against beer baron

In December 2010, a 27-year-old former model died of a drug overdose at the mansion of August Busch IV, heir to the Anheuser-Busch beer brewing throne. Following the death, a lawsuit was filed against Busch on behalf of the woman’s 9-year-old son, and the woman’s parents sought to join the suit as well.

Laws vary from state to state with regard to who can file wrongful death lawsuits after losing a loved one in an accident or crime. However, in all states, close family members like spouses, children and parents can pursue lawsuits against the person or entity responsible for the death.

In this case, Busch had asked the state Supreme Court to bar the woman’s parents from being included as plaintiffs in the lawsuit and proposed a $1.5 million settlement with the woman’s ex-husband on behalf of their son. However, the court ruled that the parents should be included in the lawsuit and settlement negotiations.

According to reports, the woman was found dead in a bedroom at Busch’s mansion on December 19, 2010. An autopsy determined her cause of death to be an accidental overdose of the painkiller oxycodone, but a high level of cocaine was also found in her system.

There were no criminal charges filed against Busch following an investigation. Busch attempted to settle the wrongful death lawsuit from their personal injury law firm with the woman’s ex-husband on behalf of their son last year, but now the woman’s parents must also be included. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the case will be heard in court and Busch could be deposed, or forced to answer questions about the incident under oath.

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