Melissa Rivers Sues Clinic over Joan Rivers' Death

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Rivers died after a routine procedure gone wrong.

Joan Rivers' daughter Melissa Rivers has filed a multimillion-dollar wrongful death lawsuit against the clinic that, she alleges, caused Joan Rivers' death.

According to the lawsuit, Rivers claims the clinic's negligence caused the coma that ultimately led to her mother passing away last year. She is reportedly suing the Yorkville Endoscopy clinic in Manhattan.

The lawsuit states that Yorkville performed an unauthorized examination of Rivers' vocal cords and windpipe that resulted in a laryngospasm. With the spasm, her throat allegedly seized up and deprived her brain of oxygen. The lawsuit claims that Rivers couldn’t expel carbon dioxide from her lungs and, as a result, she suffered a heart attack and irreversible brain damage.

The complaint alleges that, for 20 minutes while doctors attempted to revive Rivers, no one performed a tracheostomy to clear her airways. 

Melissa Rivers, 47, filed the lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court on Monday. She names five doctors as well as the clinic as defendants. 

Yorkville Endoscopy released the following statement: "We are aware that a lawsuit was filed, but it is not appropriate to comment publicly regarding the lawsuit. The Rivers family has, as it has always had, our deepest sympathies and condolences. The 51 physicians, nurses and staff who currently work at Yorkville remain firmly committed to providing the highest quality of care to their patients, and we are continuing to work with regulatory agencies to ensure compliance with all laws and regulations."

Joan Rivers died on Sept. 4 at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan a week after complications from a routine procedure at the outpatient surgery center Yorkville Endoscopy on the Upper East Side. The New York City Medical Examiner ruled that Rivers died from "predictable complication of medical therapy."

Rivers died due to lack of oxygen to her brain. She checked into Yorkville for a routine laryngoscopy — a procedure in which a doctor examines the back of the throat and vocal cords; the raspy comedienne had been complaining of recent changes to her voice. She also was examined for acid reflux, with an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy involving looking at the upper gastrointestinal tract with a light. Both are routine procedures.

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