In one of the more high-profile wrongful death cases of the year, the Missouri Supreme Court has decided not to prevent parents from joining a lawsuit over the death of their adult child, Adrienne Martin. Martin died of an oxycodone overdose while at the palatial home of former beer baron August Busch IV. The lawsuit had originally been filed on behalf of Martin’s 9-year-old son, whose lawyers had sought to block the parents from joining the suit. A lower court initially decided that the parents could not be parties to the suit, but an appellate court reversed the decision, saying the parents have “an absolute right to join.” The Missouri Supreme Court decided not to review the appellate court decision.
One of the biggest stakes in the court’s decision was the parental influence on whether or not to take the $1.5 million settlement offer from the Busch family. The attorney representing Martin’s son has asked a judge to finalize the settlement offer, but it is unclear whether the parents will exercise their right to seek additional compensation, or whether the judge will simply allocate some of the settlement to the parents. In addition, it will make the parents privy to discovery in the case as well as giving them the ability to subpoena witnesses, all of which will help them understand what happened to their daughter.
In Ohio, parents are also able to join a wrongful death lawsuit over an adult child’s death. However, they must still demonstrate economic and/or noneconomic damages.
If you have lost an adult child and would like to learn more about your legal rights, please contact Robert W. Kerpsack, CO, LPA for a free wrongful death lawsuit consultation.