The family of late singer and rock star Prince is suing the man’s former physician, claiming the doctor’s decisions led to an opioid overdose.
Prince Rogers Nelson, writes The New York Times, ‘died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl’ on 15 April, 2016. Authorities investigating Prince’s death say his doctor, Michael Schulenberg, admitted prescribing opioids to the singer’s bodyguard.
While Schulenberg paid $30,000 to settle a federal civil suit for signing off an illegal prescription, he’s denied responsibility in the years since.
The lawsuit against Schulenberg, filed in Hennepin County District Court, alleges that the physician and his cohorts 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.”
Prince’s family hopes to attain at least $50,000 in damages.
“He failed to appropriately evaluate, diagnose, treat and counsel Prince for his recognizable opioid addiction, and further failed to take appropriate and reasonable steps to prevent the foreseeably fatal result of that addiction,” the suit claims.
“These departures from the standard of acceptable medical practice had a substantial part in bringing about Prince’s death.”
Schulenberg and his legal counsel say they’ll stand behind the doctor’s actions, even if his settlement seems to suggest some wrongdoing.
“We understand this situation has been difficult on everyone close to Mr. Nelson and his fans across the globe,” said attorney Paul Peterson. “Be that as it may, Dr. Schulenberg stands behind the care that Mr. Nelson received. We intend to do defend this case.”
Along with Schulenberg, the suit names North Memorial Health Care—Schulenberg’s employer—and prescription dispensaries like Walgreens as co-defendants.
The BBC reports that a post-mortem investigation at the singer’s house found ‘hundreds’ of pills and prescription medications. Law enforcement says Prince appeared to have experienced ‘significant pain’ in the years preceding his death.
Evidence obtained from the rock star’s residence raised even more questions. While prince thought he was taking Vicodin for pain management, he was, in fact, accidentally abusing ‘a counterfeit Vicodin pill laced with potentially deadly fentanyl.’
Prosecutors said there’s no evidence that Schulenberg or any other healthcare professionals were involved in obtaining fake pills for Prince. To date, nobody’s been charged in providing the counterfeit medications that killed the singer.
The latest suit is meant to replace one that had been filed in April in Illinois.
“Prince lived in Minnesota all his life and passed away here, so we always thought his family’s lawsuit belonged in Minnesota,” said attorney John Goetz, who’s representing the singer’s family. Goetz added they now believe they’ve acquired sufficient evidence to move the proceedings to Minnesota.
“The Minnesota lawsuit is against all parties whom we now believe share legal responsibility for Prince’s death, but it is possible that we will identify and add other parties as we move forward with the case,” Goetz said.