Prince’s family has filed a lawsuit against the Illinois hospital where the late singer was treated for an overdose a week before his death from another overdose, the New York Times reports. News of the lawsuit comes days after a Minnesota prosecutor announced that no criminal charges related to the death would be filed.
On April 15, 2016, Prince’s plane made an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois, and the musician was treated for an overdose at the nearby Trinity Medical Center. The suit alleges the hospital’s failure to properly diagnose the overdose was a “direct and proximate cause” for Prince’s death six days later. Nicole F. Mancha, one of the doctors who treated the singer, was also named in the lawsuit as was an unnamed pharmacist and Walgreens, which the lawsuit accuses of improperly “dispensing narcotic prescription medications.” From the Times:
Dr. Mancha, in an interview with those investigating the musician’s death, said Prince told her he had taken two Percocet, though she believed he was lying, she added, because the amount of that prescription drug would not have required two shots of Narcan. The singer refused all testing, including having blood drawn and undergoing a urine toxicology report, in what his friends later said was an effort to conceal his addiction to painkillers from the public. Prince, who was known for his privacy, left the hospital without further treatment and returned to his Paisley Park home in Minnesota, according to investigators.
As the Times notes, one of the pills Prince told Mancha he took was inscribed with the imprint Watson 853. The pill was identified by the hospital’s pharmacy as hydrocodone, the opiate in Vicodin, though it was never tested. Investigators later found dozens of counterfeit pills labeled Watson 853 in a bottle by Prince’s nightstand, all of which contained fentanyl, the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl that the CDC says was responsible for 20,000 overdoses in 2017.
Last week, Dr. Michael Schulenberg, a doctor who prescribed Percocet to Prince not long before his death, was ordered to pay a $30,000 federal civil settlement for violating the Controlled Substances Act by allegedly prescribing the pills to the musician under the name of his bodyguard Kirk Johnson “for Prince’s privacy.” Schulenberg has denied those allegations.
“What happened to Prince is happening to families across America,” the legal team for Prince’s family in a statement to the Times. “The family wishes through its investigation to shed light on this epidemic and how to better the fight to save lives. If Prince’s death helps save lives, then all was not lost.”