Prince’s family is suing the doctor who prescribed opioids to the late music legend in the days leading up to his death. The family filed suit against Dr. Michael T. Schulenberg in a Minnesota court Friday (Aug. 24) accusing him of negligence and failure to recognize Prince’s addiction, thus playing a role in how he died.
According to the complaint, which was first reported by ABC News, 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.”
The suit requests a minimum of $50,000 in damages.
Prince died from an accidental overdose in April 2016. The singer took fake Vicodin that contained fentanyl, a powerful and deadly synthetic opioid. In the weeks prior to his death, Prince saw Schulenberg twice and visited Walgreens several times, to presumably fill prescriptions. Prince’s final visit with Schulenberg was the day before he was found unresponsive inside his Minnesota estate. He was also photographed at Walgreens hours earlier.
Schulenberg admitted to writing him prescriptions for Percocet — an opioid pain medication — under the name Kirk Johnson, Prince’s former bodyguard. The family’s lawsuit alleges that Schulenberg’s “departures from the standard of acceptable medical practice” played a “substantial part in bringing about Prince’s death.”
Schulenberg abruptly left his job at North Memorial Health in May 2016. A month earlier, the U.S. Attorney’s office reached a settlement with Schulenberg for writing prescriptions “in the name of an individual, knowing that the controlled substances were intended for another individual.” He was required to pay a $30,000 fine and submit to two years of monitoring by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). No criminal charges were filed.
In addition to Schulenberg, the family’s lawsuit names North Memorial, along with Walgreens and UnityPoint Health, where Prince was treated two weeks before he died. The companies have denied wrongdoing.
“All of the defendants 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,” the lawsuit claims. “They failed to do so.”
Prince’s six brothers and sisters are heirs to his estate. The family plans to dismiss a previous suit filed in Illinois against the hospital.
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