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Prince relatives agree to drop wrongful death lawsuits

Prince's sister Tyka Nelson became the second sibling to sell a piece of her estate claim to a company called Primary Wave.

Prince's sister Tyka Nelson became the second sibling to sell a piece of her estate claim to a company called Primary Wave. David Joles, Star Tribune

All but one of the wrongful death lawsuits filed by Prince's relatives are permanently resolved, reports the Associated Press, which notes the civil actions have been "quietly" wrapping up since last summer.

In 2018, Prince's heirs sued a series of defendants they wanted held responsible for his death, including Trinity Medical Center, the Illinois hospital where Prince was hospitalized for an overdose days before his April 2016 death

The same suit blamed Walgreens, alleging two suburban pharmacies (one in Bloomington, one in Minnetonka) filled prescriptions for Kirk Johnson, Prince's bodyguard, that were actually intended for use by Prince.

Those prescriptions were written by Dr. Michael Schulenberg, who was, along with his employer, also a defendant in suits brought by Prince's heirs. Schulenberg maintained he did not know Prince would take the oxycodone he'd prescribed Johnson, but in 2018 agreed to a $30,000 federal settlement and two years of monitoring by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. 

The lawsuits against Walgreens and Trinity hospital were dismissed in August, and the claims against Schulenberg and his former employer were dismissed in November. Notably, both parties in the cases agreed to the dismissals.

The relatively smooth nature of proceedings suggests the two sides are agreeing to settlements, with one source telling the AP he's "99.99 percent sure those are settlements."  

Another lawsuit against Howard Kornfeld, the California addiction expert who Prince's associates contacted mere days before the overdose, was thrown out in September when a judge determined there was no proof of a "doctor-patient relationship" with Prince. That case remains open pending an appeal.

The AP's story also gives an update on the lengthy process of settling the music legend's estate, valued at an estimated $200 million. Prince's sister Tyka Nelson recently sold a portion of her inheritance to a company called Primary Wave, which also made a deal with another sibling, Alfred Johnson, before his death in August.

Primary Wave, which also owns a piece of the estate of Whitney Houston, among other deceased musicians, is said to have "invested millions" in Prince's estate, according to court documents. Three other siblings have said Primary Wave shouldn't be treated like an "interested person" merely because of its investment.

In a joint filing, those siblings say the estate has been "wasting far too much money on legal fees for far too long."