The family of Prince has filed a lawsuit against the Minnesota-based doctor that prescribed the late musician with new different opioid pills rather than attempting to diagnose and treat his opioid addiction in the days before his accidental overdose in 2016.
As The Associated Press notes, “Prince Rogers Nelson died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl April 15, 2016. Authorities say Dr. Michael Schulenberg admitted prescribing a different opioid to Prince in the days before he died, oxycodone, under his bodyguard’s name to protect the musician’s privacy. Schulenberg has disputed that, although he paid $30,000 to settle a federal civil violation alleging that the drug was prescribed illegally.”
The new lawsuit, filed in Minnesota’s Hennepin County District Court earlier this week, alleges 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.” The suit seeks unspecified damages in excess of $50,000.
As Nelson family attorney John Goetz explained in a statement, “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.”
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 naloxone, a drug which reverses opioid overdoses.
In addition to Dr. Schulenberg, the suit seeks damages from North Memorial Health Care, where Schulenberg worked at the time; UnityPoint Health, which operates the Moline hospital where Prince was treated for his in-flight overdose ahead of his death; and Walgreens Co., which operates two drug stores where Prince got prescriptions filled.
The attorney for Dr. Schulenberg, Paul Peterson, refutes the merit of this new legal action. As he explained in a response statement, “We understand this situation has been difficult on everyone close to Mr. Nelson and his fans across the globe. Be that as it may, Dr. Schulenberg stands behind the care that Mr. Nelson received. We intend to defend this case.”
Prince is far from the only high-profile musician to die unexpectedly from an accidental prescription drug overdose. In the wake of Michael Jackson‘s 2009 death due to an overdose of the anesthetic, propofol, Jackson’s doctor was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for overprescribing the medication and was sentenced to four years in prison. More recently, Tom Petty died after suffering a heart attack brought on by an accidental overdose of a variety of medications he was prescribed by a physician.
[H/T The Associated Press]