LOS ANGELES — Family members of Chris Cornell on Thursday sued a doctor they say over-prescribed drugs to the rock singer, leading to his death.
Cornell, frontman for Soundgarden, died in May 2017 in Detroit; he was 52. The coroner ruled his death a suicide by hanging.
Toxicology tests showed there were drugs present in his body, including Ativan along with barbiturates, caffeine, the anti-opioid drug naloxone, and a decongestant.
But the autopsy report said the drugs were not a cause of death.
Cornell’s widow, Vicky Cornell, and their children, Toni and Christopher, are plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court asserting that prescription drugs, especially the anti-anxiety drug Lorazepam (brand name Ativan), led to erratic behavior by Cornell before his death.
The lawsuit says Dr. Robert Koblin and his Beverly Hills office “negligently and repeatedly” prescribed “dangerous mind-altering controlled substances to Chris Cornell which impaired Mr. Cornell’s cognition, clouded his judgment, and caused him to engage in dangerous impulsive behaviors that he was unable to control, costing him his life.”
It focuses in particular on Koblin’s prescribing Cornell large amounts of Lorazepam — which is sold under the brand name Ativan — to Cornell in the 20 months leading up to his death.
A life-size, bronze statue of late Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell stands outside the Museum of Pop Culture a day after its unveiling, Oct. 8, 2018, in Seattle. Cornell’s wife, Vicky Cornell, commissioned the piece by artist Nick Marra.
A life-size, bronze statue of late Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell stands outside the Museum of Pop Culture a day after its unveiling, Oct. 8, 2018, in Seattle. Cornell’s wife, Vicky Cornell, commissioned the piece by artist Nick Marra. (Photo: Elaine Thompson/AP)
The lawsuit says the doctor knew that Cornell had a serious history of substance abuse, and he failed to examine or consult with him as he was prescribing the drugs.
The “unmonitored use of such excessive amounts of Lorazepam … was known to increase the risk of suicide because it can severely impair judgment, thinking and impulse control and diminish the ability of a patient to think and act rationally,” the lawsuit says.
Staff reached by phone at Koblin’s office said there was no immediate comment.
Vicky Cornell has said since immediately after her husband’s death that she felt the prescription drugs he was taking drove him to behave strangely, and there were no signs he might take his own life.
“At the time of his death, Mr. Cornell had everything to live for and was planning a future of recordings, performances and continued work as a charitable activist,” the lawsuit says.
Cornell’s wailing voice and his long-haired, shirtless stage presence made him an essential figure in the grunge-rock of the 1990s. Soundgarden was among the first groups to surge to national attention in a wave that later included Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains.
Cornell also fronted the super-groups Audioslave with members of Rage Against The Machine and Temple of the Dog with members of Pearl Jam.