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Prince's family to sue doctor over 'failing to treat opioid addiction'

Prince Rogers Nelson died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl on 15 April 2016.

FILE PHOTOS - Prince Rogers Nelson The artist known as Prince has died at 57 Prince's body was discovered at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota early Thursday morning on April 21, 2016 Source: PA Images

THE FAMILY OF the late rock star Prince is suing a doctor who prescribed pain pills for him, saying the doctor failed to treat him for opiate addiction and therefore bears responsibility for his death two years ago, their lawyer announced yesterday.

Prince Rogers Nelson died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl on 15 April 2016.

Authorities say Dr Michael Schulenberg admitted prescribing a different opioid to Prince in the days before he died – oxycodone – under his bodyguard’s name to protect the musician’s privacy.

Schulenberg has disputed that, although he paid $30,000 (€25,780) to settle a federal civil violation alleging that the drug was prescribed illegally.

The lawsuit filed in Hennepin County District Court this week alleges that Schulenberg and others 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 but “failed to do so”.

Damages

According to the complaint, which was first reported by ABC News.com, Prince’s family seeks unspecified damages in excess of $50,000 (€42,983).

A lawyer for Prince’s six surviving siblings said yesterday that the new lawsuit will eventually replace a lawsuit they filed in April in Illinois to beat a legal deadline.

A week before he died, Prince lost consciousness on a flight home from playing a concert in Atlanta. The plane made an emergency stop in Moline, Illinois, where he was revived at Trinity Medical Center with a drug that reverses opioid overdoses.

“Prince lived in Minnesota all his life and passed away here, so we always thought his family’s lawsuit belonged in Minnesota,” attorney John Goetz said in a statement. He said they now have sufficient legal grounds to pursue the lawsuit in Prince’s home state.

Schulenberg’s attorney, Paul Peterson, said yesterday that they believe the lawsuit has no merit.

“We understand this situation has been difficult on everyone close to Mr. Nelson and his fans across the globe,” he said in a statement.

Be that as it may, Dr. Schulenberg stands behind the care that Mr. Nelson received. We intend to defend this case.

Authorities say Prince probably didn’t know he was taking the dangerous drug fentanyl when he took counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl that looked like a generic version of the painkiller Vicodin.

The source of those pills remains unknown and no one has been charged in Prince’s death.

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Associated Press

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