Joan Rivers’ Estate Sues Surgical Center Claiming Negligence

Joan Rivers’ estate sued the New York City surgical center where complications during a medical procedure led to the comedian’s death, saying it provided reckless and negligent treatment, violated her privacy and abandoned her when she needed emergency care.

Rivers’ daughter Melissa and two other executors of the estate sued Yorkville Endoscopy LLC today in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, according to a copy of the complaint provided by a lawyer for the group. The filing couldn’t be immediately confirmed in court records.

Rivers, 81, a stand-up comedian, writer and television personality, was undergoing a diagnostic procedure to evaluate voice changes and acid reflux at Yorkville Endoscopy in Manhattan on Aug. 28 when complications occurred. She died Sept. 4 at nearby Mount Sinai Hospital.

Melissa Rivers said in a statement that filing the suit was one of the “most difficult decisions” she’s ever had to make and that she was guided by her “unwavering belief” that no family should have to go through what hers did.

“The level of medical mismanagement, incompetency, disrespect and outrageous behavior is shocking and frankly, almost incomprehensible,” Melissa Rivers said. “Not only did my mother deserve better, every patient deserves better. It is my goal to make sure that this kind of horrific medical treatment never happens to anyone again.”

The New York City Medical Examiner ruled that Rivers died as a result of a “therapeutic complication” caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain during a laryngoscopy, a procedure to view the vocal chords, and an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. She was sedated with the drug Propofol, according to the medical examiner.

A survey of the clinic by the New York State Department of Health following Rivers’ death uncovered numerous flaws in her treatment. Rivers underwent two diagnostic procedures by an ear, nose and throat surgeon who wasn’t a member of the medical staff and didn’t have treatment privileges at the facility, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in November, citing the inspection.

Yorkville Endoscopy didn’t immediately respond to a phone message Monday seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Melissa Rivers v. Yorkville Endoscopy LLC, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).

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