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Prince’s estate files wrongful death lawsuit against doctor who treated singer before fatal overdose

August 25, 2018

Lawyers representing the estate of Prince Rogers Nelson, the late musician better known as Prince, filed a wrongful death lawsuit Friday against a doctor who treated him twice in the days before the “Purple Rain” singer’s fatal fentanyl overdose in April 2016.

Filed in Minnesota district court on behalf of Prince’s six sisters and brothers, the lawsuit accuses Dr. Michael Schulenberg of contributing to the musician’s passing by allegedly providing insufficient medical services when he treated the singer in the weeks immediately preceding his death.

“For an unknown but considerable period of time before his death on April 21, 2016, Prince suffered from addiction to opioid pain medications,” attorney John C. Goetz wrote in the lawsuit.

Dr. Schulenebrg, the lawsuit alleges, “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,” Mr. Goetz wrote in the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, Dr. Schulenebrg treated Prince on April 8 and again on April 20, a day before his death. He previously admitted prescribing the powerful painkiller oxycodone to Prince’s friend, Kirk Johnson, in an effort to protect the singer’s identity, and in April he was subsequently fined $30,000 for violating the Controlled Substances Act.

Prince’s overdose was ultimately caused by fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, obtained by an unknown source, and prosecutors previously said that not enough evidence exists to criminally prosecute anyone in connection with his death.

The lawsuit filed Friday also names Dr. Schulenebrg’s former employer, North Memorial Health, as well as the company that operates facilities where the singer was treated, UnityPoint Health, and the Walgreens pharmacy that dispensed the painkiller prescription.

“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. They failed to do so,” attorneys for Prince’s estate alleged in the 7-page complaint filed in Hennepin County Court.

An attorney for Dr. Schulenebrg’s, Paul Peterson, told ABC News, that his client “stands behind the care that Mr. Nelson received.”

“We intend to defend this case,” he told the network.

North Memorial Health said it “stands behind the care Mr. Nelson received,” and Walgreens declined to comment on the pending litigation, ABC reported.

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