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Joan Rivers’ Medical Team Doesn’t Have to Admit Wrongdoing

— September 11, 2015

A judge ruled during a pre-trial hearing that the medical team who worked on comedienne Joan Rivers does not have to admit to any wrongdoing before the trial begins. The judge found that these were material facts best left to the actual trial. One of the issues Melissa Rivers sought to have doctors admit is that Dr. Cohen took in appropriate pictures of her mother while she was sedated.

As expected, a judge handed down a ruling in the pre-trial phase of the Joan Rivers medical malpractice case on the issue of whether the medical team had to admit to taking inappropriate pictures of the late comedienne while she was under anesthesia. Joan Rivers’ medical team doesn’t have to admit wrongdoing before the case is tried.

You may remember that Rivers’ daughter, Melissa, sought to have doctors from Yorkville Endoscopy admit that one of their own, Dr. Lawrence Cohen, took pictures of Joan before the procedure. Despite warnings from other medical team members that Rivers’ vitals were unstable, nothing was done and she slipped into a coma and died.

Melissa Rivers’ lawyers assert that the clinic’s own records document the improper photography, but the judge ruled against a pre-trial admission. The ruling stated that Melissa “seeks to have defendants admit facts at the heart of the controversy” and that such should be dealt with during the trial.

This isn’t that much of a setback, to be honest. What it means is that all the medical personnel present during the procedure will have to be questioned individually. I’m sure Melissa’s lawyers are more that up to that task, even though it will add time to the length of the trial.


The suit was filed in January after much soul-searching on Melissa’s part. She said it was “one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make. What ultimately guided me was my unwavering belief that no family should ever have to go through what my mother, [my son] Cooper and I have been through. The level of medical mismanagement, incompetency, disrespect, and outrageous behavior is shocking and frankly, almost incomprehensible.”

This is the reason I don’t see the judge’s ruling as much of a setback. The clinic’s records do show that the photo was taken. More importantly, they show examples of the “mismanagement” and “incompetency” alleged in the complaint. In my armchair legal opinion, this case is a slam-dunk for the Rivers family, deservedly so, too.

Joan Rivers underwent a procedure at Yorkville Endoscopy in August 2014. She passed away on September 4, 2014, a week after slipping into a coma. The photo-happy Dr. Cohen has since been fired. While he still denies he did anything wrong, he refuses to comment on the suit.


Doctors in Joan Rivers Death Lawsuit Don’t Have to Admit Wrongdoing, Says Judge

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