Prince’s family is suing the doctor who prescribed painkillers days before his death
The family says the doctor had 'an opportunity and duty to diagnose and treat Prince’s opioid addiction, and to prevent his death'
The family of the late rock star Prince is suing the doctor who prescribed him painkillers alleging that the doctor failed to treat him for opiate addiction and is responsible for his death two years ago, their attorney announced Friday.
On April 15, 2016, Prince Rogers Nelson died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Authorities say Dr Michael Schulenberg admitted to prescribing a different opioid, oxycodone, to Prince in the days before he died under his bodyguard’s name to protect the rockstar’s privacy. Schulenberg has disputed that, although he paid $30,000 to settle a federal civil violation for prescribing the drug illegally.
The new lawsuit filed in Hennepin County District Court this week states that Schulenberg and others had “an opportunity and duty during the weeks before Prince’s death to diagnose and treat Prince’s opioid addiction and to prevent his death. They failed to do so.”
According to the complaint, which was reported by ABC, Prince’s family is seeking unspecified damages in excess of $50,000.
Prince’s attorney reportedly said that the new lawsuit will eventually replace a lawsuit they filed in April in Illinois to beat a legal deadline. A week before he died, Prince lost consciousness on a flight home from playing a concert in Atlanta. The plane made an emergency stop in Moline, Illinois, where he was revived at Trinity Medical Center with a drug that reverses opioid overdoses.
“Prince lived in Minnesota all his life and passed away here, so we always thought his family’s lawsuit belonged in Minnesota,” attorney John Goetz said in a statement. He said they now have sufficient legal grounds to pursue the lawsuit in Prince’s home state.
Schulenberg’s attorney, Paul Peterson, responded that they believe the lawsuit has no merit.
“We understand this situation has been difficult on everyone close to Mr. Nelson and his fans across the globe,” he said in a statement. “Be that as it may, Dr. Schulenberg stands behind the care that Mr. Nelson received. We intend to defend this case.”
The lawsuit also names North Memorial Health Care where Schulenberg worked at the time. Other names mentioned include UnityPoint Health, which operates the Moline hospital; and Walgreens Co., which operates two drug stores where Prince got prescriptions filled. The earlier lawsuit named only UnityPoint and Walgreens.
Authorities say Prince probably didn’t know he was taking the dangerous drug fentanyl when he took counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl that looked like a generic version of the painkiller Vicodin. The source of those pills remains unknown and no one has been charged in Prince’s death.