The doctor who prescribed pain pills for Prince is now the target of a lawsuit from his family, who claim the physician is responsible for his death because he failed to treat him for opiate addiction.
The musician died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl on April 15, 2016. Authorities say Dr. Michael Schulenberg admitted prescribing a different opioid (oxycodone) to Prince in the days before he died, under his bodyguard’s name to protect the singer’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 lawsuit filed in Hennepin County District Court last 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.”
According to the complaint, which was first reported by ABC News, Prince’s family seeks unspecified damages in excess of $50,000.
An attorney for Prince’s six surviving siblings said that the new lawsuit will 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, said Friday 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.”
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