Joan Rivers Wrongful Death Suit Settled for Bitter Truth, Plus Some

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on May 13, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Joan Rivers wanted to talk about things, honestly. She was a funny lady who used her biting humor to rise to the top of American comedy and stay there for decades, amusing generations. Then Rivers died of a sore throat, in a manner of speaking, due to the negligence of her doctors.

Now, reports the New York Daily News, her daughter Melissa has settled a wrongful death suit with the New York clinic where she was treated. The amount of money recovered in the settlement is undisclosed but the doctors did admit guilt, which is rare and interesting. Even after she's gone, Rivers lets no one get away unscathed by her taste for the truth.

A Routine Procedure

In August 2014, Joan Rivers went to a Manhattan clinic complaining of a sore throat and hoarse voice. She was 81-years-old and still working, so presumably concerned about performing. Rivers was scheduled for what has been described as a routine outpatient surgical throat procedure. But she stopped breathing and died during this appointment.

Melissa Rivers, the comedian's daughter, who has made a career of being her mother's sidekick, sued the clinic for wrongful death. In accepting the settlement, she appears to be keeping the spirit of her mother in mind. The junior Rivers seemed satisfied with the fact that the doctors took responsibility for their wrongdoing.

Melissa Rivers said in her statement: "In choosing to accept 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."

Last Laugh?

The younger Rivers also said that she would work on ensuring improved care standards at outpatient surgical clinics so that deaths like her mother's can be avoided. Melissa sued for millions of dollars but did not disclose how much the doctors paid to close this case.

The Rivers family lawyers issued a statement, too. They wrote that "no amount of money will compensate Melissa Rivers and her son Cooper for their loss" but they are "pleased that the case has been resolved."

As for Joan, no one knows of course. But it's safe to bet she's having the last laugh beyond the grave, having wrenched the truth about her death from those who didn't want to talk about it.

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