With tonight’s tribute concert for music legend Chris Cornell about to take place, fans of the late Soundgarden and Audioslave singer may be interested to note that late last year his wife sued her late husband’s doctor for malpractice.
Cornell’s widow Vicky Cornell sued her late husband’s doctor for medical malpractice, claiming he was “negligently and repeatedly” prescribing medication that ultimately led to the singer’s death on May 18, 2017.
Cornell had been on tour with Soundgarden when he was found unresponsive on the bathroom floor of his Detroit hotel room. A spokesperson for the Detroit Police Department told the Detroit Free Press that Cornell had “a band around his neck.” The Wayne County medical examiner later ruled the singer’s death “hanging by suicide.” According to Cates Mahoney’s legal blog, toxicology reports showed amounts of barbituates, Ativan, and the anti-opoid drug naxalone in Cornell’s system, although the medical examiner said those drugs did not cause his death.
Vicky Cornell, however, issued a statement on May 19, 2017, saying, “When we spoke after the show, I noticed he was slurring his words; he was different. When he told me he may have taken an extra Ativan or two, I contacted security and asked that they check on him. … I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life.”
Vicky’s lawsuit against Dr. Robert Koblin alleges that he prescribed Cornell over 940 doses of Ativan between September 2015 and May 2017. The suit, obtained by Rolling Stone, also claims Koblin was prescribing Oxycodone for the singer, alleging that the doctor never performed any clinical assessments or other medical examinations of Cornell. These “dangerous mind-altering controlled substances … impaired [his] cognition, clouded his judgment and caused him to engage in dangerous impulsive behaviors that he was unable to control, costing him his life,” the suit says.
Vicky also claims Koblin was aware Cornell had a history of substance abuse, and that he did not monitor the singer’s prescriptions.
Ativan, also called Lorazepam, is a member of the benzodiazepine family of drugs, and withdrawal can be potentially fatal if a patient stops taking it abruptly. Its side effects, according to Cates Mahoney, can become more dangerous if a patient is combining Ativan with medications like oxycodone.
“Dr. Koblin is a competent and conscientious doctor who enjoyed an excellent physician/patient relationship with Mr. Cornell and other members of his family,” said James Kjar, Koblin’s attorney. “The experts I have consulted with believe Dr. Koblin’s treatment was within the standard of care in this community and were not a substantial factor in causing Mr. Cornell to commit suicide.”
A four-disc box set titled “Chris Cornell” was released in November, featuring 88 songs that spanned the singer’s career. The set includes a version of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” that Cornell sang with his daughter Toni at the Beacon Theater in 2015. A video of that performance has over three million views on YouTube.
A Chris Cornell tribute concert is taking place tonight at The Forum in Los Angeles, with proceeds benefiting the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation and the Epidermolysis Bullosa Medical Research Foundation.