Prince was one of the biggest stars in the history of music, so it was only more painful to learn the star may have died before his time. Prince died of an accidental fentanyl overdose on April 21, 2016, to the shock of fans and friends everywhere. It was revealed that he was struggling with an opioid addiction. Following his death, his family tried to determine who could be responsible for allowing his addiction to worsen and reach a fatal endpoint. In April 2018, Prince’s heirs filed a wrongful death lawsuit that implicated a bunch of defendants. According to Page Six, over the past few months, all of the defendants have quietly been dismissed.
Dr. Michael Schulenberg, who treated Prince in the weeks before his death, was let off the hook in November, as was Schulenberg’s former employer. Both sides agreed to the dismissals. Authorities said Schulenberg admitted to prescribing oxycodone to Prince’s bodyguard in the days before Prince died, knowing the drug would go to Prince. While Schulenberg had to pay a $30,000 federal civil violation fine for prescribing the drug illegally, he is not being held directly responsible for Prince’s death. The lawsuit also targeted Walgreens for filling Prince’s prescriptions, but the pharmacy chain was dismissed in August by agreement.
There were blatant signs that Prince’s opioid addiction was getting out of hand before his death. For one, he overdosed on a plane a week before. The Illinois hospital where the iconic singer was treated after this incident, Trinity Medical Center, was also listed in the lawsuit for quickly discharging him without attempting to combat his addiction. The hospital was permanently dismissed in August by agreement.
A medical negligence claim was also made against Howard Kornfeld, a California addiction specialist who was contacted by Prince’s associates before he died. Kornfield was dismissed in September, as the judge found no evidence that Kornfeld ever communicated with Prince.
Lastly, Prince’s bodyguard, Kirk Johnson, was deposed during the lititgation, but nothing came about from this, as transcripts show that he refused to answer most questions.
While the wrongful death case may be dropped, Prince’s family still has issues to settle. The late artist did not leave a will and the process of determining the value of his estate has not been completed yet. It’s estimated to be worth $200 million, so more disputes may arise when deciding how to split it.