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Settlement In Joan Rivers’ Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Joan Rivers was one of America’s most celebrated comedians. Known for her performances on The Tonight Show, and hosting Live from the Red Carpet, Rivers died on September 4, 2014. She was undergoing surgery on her vocal cords at the time, when she suddenly stopped breathing. Her daughter, Melissa Rivers, filed a medical malpractice lawsuit, which has just been settled.

In August of 2014, Rivers was being operated on at Yorksville Endoscopy Center, a New York medical clinic. She had complained of a sore throat and a hoarse voice. During her throat surgery, Rivers stopped breathing. She was immediately rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital. Rivers was placed in a medically induced coma. On September 1, she was taken out of the coma, and died a few days later.

Rivers filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the endoscopy center, Dr. Gwen Korvin, Dr. Renuka Bankulla, Dr. Lawrence Cohen, and others. The lawsuit claimed Dr. Korvin should not have been permitted to be in the operating room while Rivers was undergoing the endoscopy procedure. Dr. Cohen allegedly allowed Dr. Korvin into the operating room to perform an unauthorized transnasal laryngoscopy, after which, Rivers’ vital signs worsened.

Dr. Cohen was also accused of taking a picture of Rivers on the operating table with his cell phone. The anesthesiologist was so concerned about what had happened, that she wrote out five pages of notes detailing the events, and what she saw and heard. Dr. Cohen stepped down from a medical director of Yorkville Endoscopy after the comedian’s death.

Melissa Rivers released a statement saying that the people responsible for her mother’s death have accepted responsibility. “In accepting this settlement,” Rivers’ statement read, “I am able to put the legal aspects of my mother’s death behind me and ensure that those culpable for her death have accepted responsibility for their actions quickly and without equivocation.”

Rivers said her focus was to prevent others from having to go through the same thing, and push for higher safety standards in outpatient surgical clinics. “I want to express my personal gratitude to my legal team for their wise counsel and prompt resolution of this case.”

The amount of the settlement was not disclosed. However, the attorneys for the Rivers family, Jeffrey Bloom and Ben Rubinowitz said the settlement was “substantial.” Rubinowitz also said they would be working to improve minimum safety standards, adding, “profit cannot be placed above patient safety.”

Yorksville Endoscopy Center also released a statement. “Today, the parties agreed to settle this case to avoid protracted litigation. We remain committed to providing quality, compassionate healthcare services that meet the needs of our patients, their families and the community.”

If a loved one has been injured or died as the result of a medical mistake, the Gilman & Bedigian team of experienced attorneys is fully equipped to handle your claim. Our staff includes a physician and attorneys with decades of malpractice litigation experience. We focus on getting you compensation for your injuries so you can focus on getting better and moving forward with your life.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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