Prince’s Family Hits Walgreens & Hospital With Major Lawsuit, Following Investigation

Posted On : April 27, 2018

Now that the Carver County Sheriff’s Office has closed their nearly 2 year investigation into Prince’s death with absolutely no criminal charges filed, Prince’s family is not letting his death go unpunished that easily.

US singer Prince performs on October 11,
Prince  (BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)

Why Prince’s Fam’ Is Suing

Prince’s siblings filed their lawsuit on Monday, against Walgreens and the Illinois hospital that treated Prince days before his April 21, 2016 death:

Via NYTimes: Prince’s family, under the name of a trustee, Michael A. Zimmer, charge in the suit that the singer received improper medical care in the early morning hours of April 15, 2016, after Prince’s private plane made an emergency landing in Moline, Ill., following a show in Atlanta. The suit claims that Prince’s death was a “direct and proximate cause” of the hospital failing to appropriately diagnose and treat the overdose, as well as its failure to investigate the cause and provide proper counseling.

In documents released by Carver County Sheriff’s office, investigators stated that on the night of Prince’s emergency hospital visit, he unknowingly overdosed on an opioid pill that he actually believed was a Vicodin pain pill instead. It’s suspected, those are the same pills that ultimately killed him.

The family is suing the Illinois Hospital for this reason:

Via NYTimes: Lawyers for Prince’s family, George Loucas and John Goetz, said in a statement Monday: “What happened to Prince is happening to families across America. 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.”

The lawsuit names Trinity Medical Center, the Illinois hospital where Prince was treated, along with its parent companies. Also named is Nicole F. Mancha, a doctor who provided Prince care at the hospital, as well as an unidentified pharmacist or pharmacy employee “that consulted” in the care provided to Prince.

ABC's Coverage Of The 2016 American Music Awards
Prince’s siblings (L-R): Norrine Nelson, Alfred Jackson, Tyka Nelson, and Omarr Baker (Image Group LA/ABC via Getty Images)

Although the lawsuit names Dr. Mancha as well, in the investigation documents it doesn’t quite seem as though she’s liable. You see, when Prince had to make that emergency plane landing, he was rushed to the hospital barely breathing, according to the investigative documents. When he arrived, it took two shots of Narcan -a medicine commonly used to reverse an opioid overdose- to revive Prince that night. However, Prince’s longtime friend/bodyguard, Kirk Johnson, told the hospital that he believed Prince had taken a pain med, Percocet, that night.

When Dr. Mancha was interviewed by investigators, she told them that given the excessive amount of Narcan shots it took to revive Prince, she did not believe that he’d taken a lower dosed pain med, like Percocet nor Vicodin. But Prince refused the hospital to run a blood or urine toxicology test on him, in order to discover exactly what was in his system. Later that night, he then left and went back to his Paisley Park home.

Since Prince refused the drug testing, typically it would leave the doctors and hospital helpless in that regard, because they cannot force him to take the test. As a result, they cannot tell what type of help he needs. However, according to one expert, that may usually make for a hard case for Prince’s family to win against the hospital, but the state of Illinois is known for being “pro-patient,” meaning the family may actually have a shot at winning that argument.

Walgreens is getting hit in the lawsuit for this reason:

The family is also suing Walgreens, charging its employees with “dispensing narcotic prescription medications” to the singer for an invalid medical purpose and failing to conduct the appropriate drug utilization review. -NYT

According to legal docs, on the night of Prince’s emergency plane landing, his backup singer, Judith Hill, told investigators that Prince told her he’d taken one of the pills from an unidentified Bayer aspirin bottle. The pills had ‘Watson 853’ printed on them. When Hill sent a photo of the pills to the Walgreens pharmacy, the pharmacy then identified the pills as ‘Hydrocodone’ (a.k.a. Vicodin) but they never ran tests on the pills to verify that. Days later, Prince was found dead in his Paisley Park home from what investigators believe was an overdose of counterfeit Vicodin (hydrocodone) pills laced with Fentanyl and marked with the same Watson 853 marking.