Melissa Rivers Settles Medical Malpractice Suit With Joan Rivers' Medical Clinic

"I am able to put the legal aspects of my mother’s death behind me," she said.

ByABC News
May 12, 2016, 8:23 PM

— -- Melissa Rivers has settled her medical malpractice lawsuit with her mother's New York City medical clinic.

Last year, the TV personality sued Yorkville Endoscopy, where Joan Rivers went into cardiac arrest in 2014, and several employees there, claiming negligence.

Melissa Rivers sought unspecified damages and said she sued to ensure that nobody else will ever experience what happened to her mother.

"In accepting this settlement, 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," she told ABC News in a statement today. "Moving forward, my focus will be to ensure that no one ever has to go through what my mother, Cooper and I went through and I will work towards ensuring higher safety standards in out-patient surgical clinics. I want to express my personal gratitude to my legal team for their wise counsel and prompt resolution of this case."

The lawsuit also named, among others, former Yorkville Endoscopy medical director Dr. Lawrence Cohen, anesthesiologist Robert Koniuta and Dr. Gwen Korovin, Rivers’ personal ear, nose and throat doctor who allegedly was not authorized to be in the room at the time Joan Rivers went in for a routine procedure on Aug. 28, 2014.

"Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the Rivers family," a spokesperson for Yorkville Endoscopy told ABC News. "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.”

Melissa Rivers claimed that Cohen allowed Korovin into the room, though she "should not have been permitted." At that point, according to the lawsuit, Korovin said, "I'll go first," and then performed an unauthorized transnasal laryngoscopy, and that Cohen ignored questions raised by the anesthesiologist about the propriety of the procedure. After the laryngoscopy was complete, court documents indicated that Cohen began the endoscopy, but by then, the comedian's blood pressure, pulse and oxygen levels had dropped significantly, though nobody took notice. Instead, according to the lawsuit, Cohen took unauthorized cell phone photos of Rivers, saying that the comedian would "like to see these in the recovery area."

At that point, the lawsuit stated, doctors took note of her deteriorating vital signs, and attempted to revive her, though it took them 10 minutes to realize that what they were doing wouldn't work because of her obstructed airway. When they realized that an emergency procedure called a cricothyrotomy was required, Korovin, the only person there who knew how to do it had "left the procedure room," according to the lawsuit.

Joan Rivers died in September 2014, just days after she went into cardiac arrest at Yorkville Endoscopy.

"While we know that no amount of money will compensate Melissa Rivers and her son Cooper for their loss, we are pleased that the case has been resolved. We worked tirelessly to ensure that appropriate compensation was paid on behalf of those responsible for Joan Rivers' death," said Melisa Rivers' attorneys, Jeffrey Bloom and Ben Rubinowitz, of Gair, Gair, Conason, Steigman, Mackauf, Bloom & Rubinowitz.

"In keeping with Melissa's wishes, we will continue to work with the Rivers' family to ensure that appropriate safeguards and higher safety standards are put into effect in all ambulatory surgery centers to protect the health, safety and well-being of all patients and to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again.We have agreed to keep the terms of the settlement confidential to make certain that the focus of this horrific incident remains on improved patient care and the legacy of Joan Rivers," the attorneys added.