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Prince family files wrongful death lawsuit

More than two years after Prince's death, the family of the late musician is suing the doctor that prescribe...

Posted: Aug 29, 2018 5:10 PM
Updated: Aug 29, 2018 5:10 PM

More than two years after Prince's death, the family of the late musician is suing the doctor that prescribed the painkiller Percocet to Prince in a new civil lawsuit.

Prince, whose full name was Prince Rogers Nelson, died of an accidental fentanyl overdose in 2016 after taking counterfeit Vicodin pills that were laced with fentanyl, according to the Carver County Attorney's Office, which decided in April not to file any criminal charges.

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Wrongful death and survival

In a lawsuit obtained by CNN, Prince family attorney Michael Zimmer identifies six of Prince's brothers and sisters as plaintiffs suing defendants Iowa Health System, UnityPoint Health, Walgreens, North Memorial Healthcare and Minnesota physician Dr. Michael Schulenberg.

The wrongful death civil lawsuit was filed in Hennepin County District Court Friday morning.

The lawsuit claims that in the weeks immediately preceding Prince's death, he received professional health care services from all the defendants identified by the lawsuit. The suit outlines the dates in which Prince visited each of the facilities or people mentioned and then claims that, "all of the defendants had an opportunity and duty during the weeks before Prince's death to diagnose and treat Prince's opioid addition and to prevent his death. They failed to do so."

The claim singles out Dr. Michael Schulenberg, saying that the physician "had a duty to provide the quality of care consistent with the standard of acceptable medical practice. He failed to do so."

Schulenberg is the Minnesota physician who saw Prince twice in the weeks before the artist's death and who prescribed the painkiller Percocet to Prince, but put the one-time prescription in the name of Kirk Johnson, Prince's former drummer and longtime friend, according to the Carver County Attorney's Office.

In April, Schulenberg agreed to pay a $30,000 fine to the United States to settle civil allegations that he prescribed drugs to someone else knowing that Prince would take them.

The new civil suit accuses the doctor of failing 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."

Schulenberg's attorney, Paul C. Peterson, told CNN Tuesday that "this case has no merit," and that his client stands by the level of care he provided to Prince.

"We understand this situation has been difficult on everyone close to Mr. Nelson and his fans across the globe. Be that as it may, Dr. Schulenberg stands behind the care that Mr. Nelson received. We intend to defend this case," Peterson said.

CNN has reached out to all of the defendants but has not heard back at time of publication.

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