Prince’s Family Sues Doctor Who Reportedly Prescribed Him Pain Pills

By Victoria Kim 08/28/18

The lawsuit alleges that the doctor "failed" to treat Prince's opioid addiction prior to his death.


The family of Prince (born Prince Rogers Nelson) is suing a doctor accused of playing a “substantial part” in the music icon’s death.

According to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office, the official cause of Prince’s April 15, 2016 death was an accidental overdose of fentanyl.

The family is suing Dr. Michael Schulenberg in Hennepin County District Court in Minnesota, to replace the lawsuit filed in April in Illinois, according to the family’s attorney.

The lawsuit alleges that Schulenberg and others—including the hospital where Schulenberg worked at the time)—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.” However, the family states, “They failed to do so.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages in excess of $50,000, ABC News reports.

Authorities say the doctor admitted to prescribing oxycodone a week before Prince's death, under his bodyguard’s name to protect his privacy.

However, Schulenberg’s lawyer, Amy S. Conners, said in a statement that the doctor “never directly prescribed opioids to Prince, nor did he ever prescribe opioids to any other person with the intent that they would be given to Prince,” the New York Times reported in April 2017.

Investigators later stated that it was possible that Prince was not aware that the medication he was taking contained fentanyl.

“In all likelihood, Prince had no idea he was taking a counterfeit pill that could kill him,” said Carver County Attorney Mark Metz this past April, while announcing that no criminal charges would be filed in the musician’s death. “Others around Prince also likely did not know that the pills were counterfeit containing fentanyl.”

Many of the medications found in the musician’s home were not in the original container provided by the pharmacy. “The evidence demonstrates that Prince thought he was taking Vicodin and not fentanyl,” Metz stated. “The evidence suggest that Prince had long suffered significant pain, became addicted to pain medications but took efforts to protect his privacy.”

Walgreens Co., where some of the prescriptions were filled, is also named in the family’s lawsuit.

Schulenberg’s attorney Paul Peterson maintained that the doctor did everything he could for the musician. “We understand this situation has been difficult on everyone close to Mr. Nelson and his fans across the globe,” said Peterson. “Be that as it may, Dr. Schulenberg stands behind the care that Mr. Nelson received. We intend to defend this case.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr