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Prince family sues Illinois hospital, Walgreens pharmacy chain

April 23, 2018 GMT

Princes six heirs have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in Illinois stemming from the treatment of the musician in Moline after he overdosed on opioids while returning home from a concert in Atlanta.

Filed on Friday, just ahead of a legal deadline, the suit makes no specific claims against the Trinity Medical Center in Moline, but argues that a doctor and pharmacist at the hospital failed to appropriately investigate and treat Princes overdose.

The superstar singer died a week later, on April 21, 2016, from what an autopsy ruled to be an accidental overdose of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin. Prince was 57 when his body was found in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate.

We will have much to say when the time is right, said John Goetz, the attorney who filed the suit on behalf of the family. We have client interests to protect at the moment, including our theory of the case. What happened to Prince is happening to families across America. Princes family wishes, through its investigation, to shed additional light on what happened to Prince. At the same time, further light on the opiate epidemic will hopefully help the fight to save lives. If Princes death helps save lives, then all was not lost.

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Pharmacy chain Walgreens also is named in the lawsuit, because it dispensed opioid medications to Prince in somebody elses name.

A week before Princes death, his plane made an emergency landing in Moline after he overdosed on opioids while returning from performing a concert in Atlanta.

Paramedics scrambled to revive Prince on the tarmac after the plane landed. He recovered after two shots of naloxone, an overdose antidote increasingly being used and often referred to by its brand name Narcan, a source said.

Search warrant affidavits unsealed in April 2017 said staff member and longtime friend Kirk Johnson told doctors in Moline that Prince may have taken Percocet, a prescription opioid painkiller.

Doubting that Percocet alone could have caused such a severe overdose, a Moline doctor pressed Prince and Johnson to disclose any other drugs that might have been involved. Johnson then gave the doctor a Bayer aspirin bottle containing white, oval pills marked with Watson 853.

A pharmacist at the hospital then visually inspected one of the pills, confirmed that it appeared to be prescription Vicodin, and returned it to Prince. The pills actually were counterfeits containing hazardous levels of fentanyl, but investigators didnt confirm that until days after the singers death.

Prince was documented as suffering from an opioid overdose, but the musician refused treatment at the Moline hospital. Later, at a meeting back in the Twin Cities with medical professionals to assess and address health concerns, Prince admitted to taking one or two pain pills that night.

The statute of limitations for filing suit in Illinois expires two years after a death in this case, April 21.

Authorities last week closed the investigation into Princes death, saying they were unable to identify the source of the fatal fentanyl. No one was ever arrested or criminally charged in the case.

Dan Browning 612-673-4493