Prince heirs sue re­tailer, hos­pi­tal

Al­lege neg­li­gence con­trib­uted to over­dose death

Edmonton Journal - - YOU - AMY FORLITI

Prince’s heirs have sued Wal­greens and the Illi­nois hos­pi­tal that treated the mu­sic su­per­star af­ter he suffered from an opi­oid over­dose, al­leg­ing that a doc­tor and var­i­ous phar­ma­cists failed to pro­vide Prince with rea­son­able care, con­tribut­ing to his death.

The wrong­ful-death law­suit filed in Cook County, Ill., al­leges a doc­tor and phar­ma­cist at Trin­ity Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Mo­line, Ill., failed to ap­pro­pri­ately treat and in­ves­ti­gate Prince’s April 15, 2016 over­dose, and that he died “as a di­rect and prox­i­mate cause of one or more ... de­vi­a­tions from the stan­dards of care.”

It ac­cuses Wal­green Co. and phar­ma­cists at two of its Min­nesota branches of “dis­pens­ing pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tions not valid for a le­git­i­mate med­i­cal pur­pose.”

Wal­greens and the hos­pi­tal’s par­ent com­pany both de­clined to com­ment Mon­day, cit­ing pend­ing lit­i­ga­tion.

Prince was 57 when he was found alone and un­re­spon­sive in an el­e­va­tor at his Pais­ley Park stu­dio com­pound in sub­ur­ban Min­neapo­lis on April 21, 2016. An au­topsy found he died of an ac­ci­den­tal over­dose of fen­tanyl, a syn­thetic opi­oid 50 times more pow­er­ful than heroin.

Au­thor­i­ties said it was likely Prince didn’t know he was tak­ing the dan­ger­ous drug, which was laced in coun­ter­feit pills made to look like a generic ver­sion of the painkiller Vi­codin. The source of those pills is un­known and no one has been charged in Prince’s death.

A week be­fore he died, Prince passed out on a flight home from an At­lanta con­cert and the pri­vate plane made an emer­gency stop in Mo­line. The mu­si­cian had to be re­vived with two doses of a drug that re­v­erses ef­fects of an opi­oid over­dose.

At Trin­ity Med­i­cal Cen­ter, Prince re­fused med­i­cal tests but was asked what drugs he took. Doc­u­ments show a pill that he had with him, which was marked as Vi­codin, was sent to the phar­macy for test­ing. A hos­pi­tal phar­ma­cist said it ap­peared to be Vi­codin and re­turned it to Prince.

Pros­e­cu­tors said last week that no chem­i­cal test­ing was done on the pill, but ev­i­dence sug­gests it was coun­ter­feit and laced with fen­tanyl.

The law­suit al­leges the phar­ma­cist and emer­gency room physi­cian, Dr. Nicole Man­cha, failed to di­ag­nose and treat the over­dose in a timely man­ner, and failed to pro­vide ap­pro­pri­ate coun­selling.

The al­le­ga­tions against Wal­greens stem from pre­scrip­tions that were dis­pensed to Prince, but writ­ten under the name of his body­guard, Kirk John­son. Au­thor­i­ties said Dr. Michael Todd Schu­len­berg ad­mit­ted he pre­scribed oxy­codone to Prince under John­son’s name to pro­tect Prince’s pri­vacy. Schu­len­berg dis­putes that, but paid $30,000 to set­tle al­le­ga­tions the drug was pre­scribed il­le­gally.

Lawyers for Prince’s fam­ily, Ge­orge Lou­cas and John Goetz, said they will have more to say when the time is right.

LIU HEUNG SHING/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The late Prince per­form­ing in 1985. His heirs have sued Wal­greens and an Illi­nois hos­pi­tal.

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