The family of Prince has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Dr. Michael T. Schulenberg, the physician who treated the musician in the days prior to his death.
According to ABC News, the lawsuit alleges that Schulenberg “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. These departures from the standard of acceptable medical practice had a substantial part in bringing about Prince’s death.”
Prince died of a fentanyl overdose in April 2016. Prince began using the drug to manage chronic hip pain sustained from years of performing. Six days prior to his death, his chartered plane was forced to making an emergency landing to receive medical care for an opioid overdose. Following the incident, a friend of Prince reached out to an opioid addiction special to assist the musician in curbing his addition, but their appointment wasn’t scheduled until a day after Prince’s death on April 21st. It was later determined that the fentanyl was a counterfeit pill laced with Vicodin.
Schulenberg was the subject of a criminal investigation, but ultimately he was not charged. He did, however, agree to pay $30,000 to settle a federal civil violation. Schulenberg had told investigators that he prescribed an opiate painkiller to the singer in someone else’s name to protect Prince’s privacy. As part of the settlement, Schulenberg admitted no liability and maintained he did not prescribe drugs to anyone with the intention they be given to Prince. Investigators said the pills prescribed by Schulenberg were not the ones that led to Prince’s death.
Along with Schulenberg, the lawsuit names his former employer, North Memorial Health, as well as Walgreens and UnityPoint Health as defendants. The lawsuit seeks $50,000 in damages.
Paul Peterson, Schulenberg’s attorney, 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 told ABC News. “Be that as it may, Dr. Schulenberg stands behind the care that Mr. Nelson received. We intend to defend this case.”