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Chris Cornell’s Wife Sues Doctor for Malpractice

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on July 17, 2019

Vicky Cornell, the widow of Chris Cornell, has filed a medical malpractice suit against the late singer’s doctor, in which she claims that the doctor “negligently and repeatedly” prescribed dangerous “mind-altering substances,” which led to Mr. Cornell’s untimely death.

What Are the Issues in the Cornell Case?

Chris Cornell committed suicide by hanging in May 2017. He had struggled with depression, as well as alcohol and drug abuse, for years, but had been sober since 2005.

As reported in Rolling Stone, which obtained a copy of the suit, Mrs. Cornell alleges that Dr. Koblin prescribed her husband more than 940 doses of Ativan (an anti-anxiety drug, also known as lorazepam) between September 2015 and his death. She claims he also prescribed oxycodone without a medical assessment, such as a physical examination or lab tests. The lawsuit claims that the prescribed drugs “impaired [Mr. Cornell’s] cognition, clouded his judgement and caused him to engage in dangerous impulsive behaviors that he was unable to control, costing him his life.”

Was Chris Cornell’s Death the Result of Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is a breach of a medical professional’s duty of care. These are cases in which a medical professional or hospital, through a wrong action or a failure to act in time, causes injury to a patient. Medical professionals are held to what is legally termed a “standard of care.” A medical professional must provide the same level of care that another, reasonable professional in the same field would provide to a patient who presents similar symptoms.

Common types of medical malpractice include:

The lawsuit charges Dr. Koblin with medical negligence, failure to obtain informed consent, and willful misconduct, among other things. These allegations are based upon Dr. Koblin:

  • Having prescribed such drugs, though fully aware of the dangers of prescribing them to a patient who had struggled with addiction. Cornell’s therapist for substance abuse referred him to Dr. Koblin.
  • Allowing unsupervised non-physician staff to write the prescriptions.

There are also undisclosed details about the case that will come to light as the lawsuit unfolds.

The Medical Examiner’s Findings

Despite the autopsy and toxicology reports finding seven drugs in Cornell’s body, allegedly none were of a dosage level to have caused his death, and the medical examiner’s report said the drugs had not contributed to the cause of death, which was listed as suicide.

Other medical experts presenting supporting evidence for the lawsuit claim that the levels of the drugs found in Mr. Cornell’s body, in combination, would result in mental and physical impairments, and that the “terminal events occurred” while he was impaired. Ativan (lorazepam) is an anti-anxiety drug with a listed side effect of causing suicidal thoughts. The FDA warns physicians that patients should not be prescribed lorazepam for more than two to four weeks at most.

As reported by the NY Daily News, Dr. Koblin refutes the lawsuit’s allegations, and claims that malpractice law protects him from legal action if a death occurs as a result of patient’s existing/ongoing condition. Holding a doctor liable for wrongful death is never a simple legal matter.

Are You a Victim of Medical Negligence in Seattle?

If you or a loved one has been injured after being treated by a hospital or healthcare provider, contact Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our firm has more than 40 years of experience, and our trial lawyers have garnered many awards and honors. Mr. Pendergast is a member of both the Million and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum and listed in Top 100 Trial Lawyers. We take cases on a contingency fee basis—there is no payment due unless we are successful in your claim. Call (888) 228-3860 to find out more.

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