Rock

Chris Cornell's Family Settles Malpractice Lawsuit With Beverly Hills Doctor

Chris Cornell and Vicky Karayiannis
Chelsea Lauren/Shutterstock

Chris Cornell and Vicky Karayiannis

The singer's widow and children accused physician Robert Koblin of “negligently and repeatedly” prescribing dangerous medication to the Soundgarden frontman.

The family of Chris Cornell has settled a malpractice lawsuit with the doctor they allege overprescribed medication to the late Soundgarden frontman prior to his suicide in May 2017, according to court documents obtained by Billboard.

Filed on April 2, 2021, in Los Angeles Superior Court, the motion reveals that the plaintiffs -- Cornell’s widow Vicky Cornell and their two children, Toni and Christopher -- reached a confidential settlement agreement with defendants Robert Koblin, M.D. and his Beverly Hills practice, Robertson Cardiovascular Center.

Filed by the Cornells’ lawyer, Melissa Lerner, the motion requested that all documents pertaining to the settlement remain sealed or redacted, citing privacy concerns. Lerner writes that “troubled individuals” have “harassed” the Cornell family in the wake of Chris Cornell’s death, including by threatening the lives of Toni and Christopher.

A lawyer for the Cornells tells Billboard the settlement agreement is still subject to court approval.

"Dr. Koblin enjoyed a close relationship with Chris and other members of his family," said Koblin's lawyer James Kjar in a statement emailed to Billboard. "He cares deeply about his patients and was saddened at the loss of Chris, as he expressed to the family. Dr. Koblin believes that helping the family deal with the grieving process is paramount to any of the legal issues involved in the lawsuit that was filed. Resolution of this case was in the best interests of all parties involved to help everyone obtain closure."

Filed in Nov. 2018, the Cornells’ lawsuit claimed that Koblin and his Beverly Hills practice “negligently and repeatedly” prescribed medication to Cornell that clouded his judgment and cognition, leading him to engage in reckless behaviors that ultimately resulted in his suicide by hanging. The suit particularly focused on allegedly excessive amounts of the anti-anxiety medication lorazepam (sold under the brand name Ativan) prescribed to Cornell by Dr. Koblin’s office beginning in Sept. 2015, 20 months prior to his death. It also claimed that Koblin had prescribed the painkiller Oxycodone to the singer.

Key to the Cornells’ lawsuit was their claim that Koblin failed to adequately warn Cornell, who had a history of substance misuse, of the potential risks and side effects of taking the prescribed medications. Vicky Cornell has long upheld that the drugs prescribed by Koblin were the overriding factor in Cornell's suicide.

Post-mortem toxicology results showed the presence of lorazepam, barbiturates, the sedative butalbital, caffeine and  decongestants in Cornell's system, along with the anti-opioid medication naloxone, which was reportedly administered by medics upon arrival at the Detroit hotel room where his body was found. A corresponding autopsy report determined that drugs were not a cause of death, however.

The Cornell family's suit against Koblin isn't the only one stemming from the singer's untimely death. Vicky Cornell has been locked in a pitched legal battle with the surviving members of Soundgarden over control of Chris Cornell's recordings, royalties and more after suing the band in Dec. 2019.