Prince’s Family Sues Former Doctor for Wrongful Death
The suit claims that the physician’s inability to treat Prince’s opioid addiction eventually led to his death.
The family of Prince, who died from a fentanyl overdose in 2016, has filed a lawsuit against his former doctor for wrongful death. The suit obtained by ABC News and viewed by Pitchfork, alleges that Dr. Michael T. Schulenberg, the physician who treated Prince twice in the days prior to his death, failed to properly treat the musician as he was suffering from an opioid addiction. “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,” reads the lawsuit. “These departures from the standard of acceptable medical practice had a substantial part in bringing about Prince’s death.” The lawsuit was filed in Minnesota district court Friday morning.
On April 15, 2016, Prince was hospitalized after his plane made an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois, and received treatment at Trinity Medical Center for an overdose. Through their investigation, prosecutors claimed that Prince believed he was taking prescription opioids like Vicodin, but the black market pills actually contained fentanyl. He took one of the pills containing fentanyl again at his home in Paisley Park, which led to his death on April 21. Prosecutors were unable to determine how Prince obtained the pills and no criminal charges were filed.
Along with Dr. Schulenberg, the lawsuit names his former employer, North Memorial Health, as well as Walgreens Co. and UnityPoint Health as defendants. (UnityPoint Health is the owner of Trinity Medical Center in Illinois.) The suit claims the defendants’ “negligence in providing inadequate [sic] professional health services to Prince” played “a substantial part in causing his death.” Prince’s family seeks $50,000 in damages.
The family recently filed a lawsuit in Illinois against the hospital and Walgreens, but now intends to dismiss it and move forwards with this new action in Minnesota, according to their attorney John Goetz.
Paul Peterson, Dr. Schulenberg’s attorney, has said that the suit is without merit. “We understand this situation has been difficult on everyone close to Mr. Nelson [Prince] and his fans across the globe,” Peterson said in a statement to ABC News. “Be that as it may, Dr. Schulenberg stands behind the care that Mr. Nelson received. We intend to defend this case.”