Norfolk, Portsmouth & Hampton, Virginia

HomeVirginiaNorfolk, Portsmouth & Hampton

Email Rick Shapiro Rick Shapiro on LinkedIn Rick Shapiro on Twitter Rick Shapiro on Facebook Rick Shapiro on Avvo
Rick Shapiro
Rick Shapiro
Attorney • (800) 752-0042

Joan Rivers Med Mal Lawsuit Settled

Comments Off

The family of Joan Rivers reached a settlement earlier this month with the clinic and doctors that it sued for medical malpractice over her death. The doctors who operated on Rivers accepted responsibility for her death but the amount of the settlement was not disclosed.

Last year, Rivers’ daughter Melissa filed a lawsuit against Yorkville Endoscopy in Manhattan where the famous actress and comedian was having surgery for a routine procedure. The lawsuit also named Dr. Gwen Korovin, an ear, nose and throat specialist; Dr. Renuka Bankulla, the main anesthesiologist, and two other anesthesiologists; and Dr. Lawrence Cohen.


Rivers visited Yorkville Endoscopy in August 2014 because of a hoarse and sore throat. She underwent a laryngoscopy, which is a minor surgery to examine the voice box and vocal cords. She also had an endoscopy, which is done to look at the upper digestive system.

The malpractice lawsuit documents state that one of the doctors seemed to be distracted by his famous patient; at one point he pulled out a cellphone and took a picture of Rivers on the table.

The anesthesiologist on the case was concerned that she would be sued for Rivers’ death and she wrote five pages of detailed notes the day the procedure happened, which described what she saw and heard. Those notes helped the case a great deal, according to Rivers’ family lawyers.

The anesthesiologist warned during the procedure that Rivers’ vocal cords were extremely swollen and they could seize. Dr. Cohen dismissed her concern as paranoid and the procedure continued. A few minutes later, her vocal cords closed and she stopped breathing.

Several minutes passed before 911 was called and by that time, the comedian’s heart stopped. She died a week later after she was taken off of life support.

Melissa Rivers’ lawyers noted that the case showed how lax oversight can be at outpatient clinical centers, and that they will work to get legislation passed in New York that will make these clinics work under the same standards as hospitals.

As experienced medical malpractice lawyers in Virginia, we are glad that the Rivers family got justice in this tragic case. Anyone who has lost a loved one to a medical error in Virginia should review our two medical malpractice guides that answer most of the common questions that come up in these complex cases. By retaining an  experienced Virginia medical malpractice lawyer, a grieving family can recover a significant medical malpractice lawsuit settlement that compensates for the pain or suffering.