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Feb. 4 2010 - 1:05 pm | 1,998 views | 1 recommendation | 1 comment

Coroner’s toxicology report blames drugs, pneumonia for death of Brittany Murphy

Luanne Platter

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The LA County Coroner’s toxicology report has finally been concluded, and various news outlets are reporting on the sad death of actress Brittany Murphy.

Murphy, a young actress, was best known for her roles in films like ‘Clueless’, ‘Girl, Interrupted’, and ‘8 Mile’, as well as her comic turn as the voice of Luanne Platter in Mike Judge’s ‘King of the Hill’ on Fox TV. She died in December, about a month after she was fired from a film shoot in Puerto Rico.

Varying reports put different emphases on the coroner’s findings. RadarOnline is headlining with a ‘drug overdose’ as the cause of Murphy’s death, and they label it as ‘accidental,’ which I guess means that it wasn’t foul play or a suicide attempt on her part. However, TMZ is putting a greater emphasis on the coroner’s finding that Murphy was suffering from pneumonia at the time of her death. They have further added that Murphy’s death was preventable, and that if she had been taken to a hospital prior to the cardiac arrest that killed her, she could have been treated for the pneumonia. By ’self-medicating,’ she pushed herself over the line, and that’s why ‘drug intake’ is listed as the injury that caused her death.

If she was self-medicating, this leads to a couple of questions. On the one hand, what was she taking that injured her enough to cause her death? On the other hand, who gave her the drugs that made her sick? Were they legal and over the counter, or were they something that were not appropriate for her condition? A full coroner’s report is due in two weeks.

Murphy’s widower husband, Simon Monjack, has threatened to sue Warner Brothers in the intervening weeks for ‘wrongful death.’ It’s kind of a bizarre charge because stress usually doesn’t induce heart attacks in 32-year-old women. Unless Warner studio executives gave Murphy the meds that injured her, or infected her with pneumonia, it’s hard to see how this would stand. Instead, Monjack seems to be trying to shift the focus off of him and Murphy’s mother, Sharon Murphy, and onto her former employers, getting out ahead of the scrutiny that the coroner’s toxicology report might create.

It will be interesting to see if there are any parallels between this case and that of Dr. Conrad Murray, the doctor who may be charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of pop king Michael Jackson. I’ve argued in the past that Dr. Murray seems like a fall guy for members of Jackson’s entourage, and I have to ask if Monjack is trying to make Warner Brothers into a fall guy for Murphy’s much smaller entourage.


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    I doubt it will, but this might point out that pneumonia is one dangerous, if unsexy and un-media-covered disease. It often kills the elderly or others whose systems are weakened.

    I got it in 2007 and ended up in the hospital. It really wreaks terrible havoc on your system and yet many young(er) people don’t even think of it as any sort of risk.

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