Advertisement
Share

Family of late Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell settles with doctor over his death

Musician Chris Cornell, wearing sunglasses
Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell in 2015.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

The family of the late Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell and a doctor who they alleged overprescribed him drugs before he died have agreed to a settle a lawsuit.

Court documents filed by attorneys for the rock singer’s widow, Vicky Cornell, and their children, Toni and Christopher Nicholas Cornell, said a confidential settlement had been reached. The documents were filed in April but went unnoticed until City News Service reported on them Thursday.

The Cornell family alleged in the 2018 Superior Court lawsuit that medication, especially the anti-anxiety drug lorazepam, prescribed by Dr. Robert Koblin led to Cornell’s erratic behavior before his death in Detroit in 2017 at age 52.

Coroner’s investigators in Michigan ruled Cornell’s death a suicide by hanging. Tests showed the presence of lorazepam, better known by its brand name Ativan, in Cornell’s system along with barbiturates and the anti-opioid drug naloxone, but did not cite them as a factor in his death.

Advertisement

The lawsuit said 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.”

No matter its setting, the voice is what hit you first: that brawny yet soulful wail, grounded in sorrow but always reaching upward for a way out of the muck.

The lawsuit said the doctor did this knowing Cornell had a serious history of substance abuse.

In court documents responding to the lawsuit, Koblin and his attorney denied any wrongdoing or responsibility for Cornell’s death.

Emails seeking comment from attorneys for both sides were not immediately returned.

“After years of litigation and settlement negotiations, Plaintiffs and Defendants ... have reached a confidential settlement agreement to resolve all claims,” the Cornell family attorneys said in the April 2 court filing.

The document said an agreement to minimize publicity and keep the settlement terms confidential were essential to the compromise.

Advertisement

The case has “received significant media coverage and attention from fans of Mr. Cornell and allies of Plaintiffs,” the court filing says. ”Unfortunately, as with many celebrity cases, this action has also attracted the attention of troubled individuals who have harassed Plaintiffs, including by threatening the life and safety of Plaintiffs Toni Cornell and Christopher Nicholas Cornell.”

A judge must still approve the parts of the settlement that involve the children, who are both minors, and the documents say the lawsuit will proceed toward trial if that doesn’t happen.

Cornell’s wailing voice and his long-haired, shirtless stage presence made him an essential figure on the 1990s grunge rock scene. Soundgarden was among the first groups to surge to national attention in a wave that later included Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains.


Advertisement