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Was medical negligence to blame for Joan Rivers' death?

Americans have lost several beloved entertainers this year, including actor Philip Seymour Hoffman and legendary comedian Robin Williams. In early September, trailblazing comedienne Joan Rivers joined the list of celebrities we lost too soon.

Unfortunately, the circumstances surrounding Ms. Rivers’ death are still a mystery. Although she suffered medical complications while visiting an endoscopy clinic and had to be placed in a medically induced coma, it is unclear if medical negligence was to blame for her injuries and subsequent death.

Her daughter, Melissa Rivers, recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit. And because she inherited $110 million from her mother’s estate, it does not seem as though money is her motive. Instead, Melissa has filed the lawsuit in order to get what many families want in such a situation: answers.

The attorneys representing Melissa Rivers will obtain Joan’s medical records by filing discovery motions. Immediately after Joan’s death, Melissa declined to have an autopsy performed. This is understandable, given her distress about losing her mother. Because no autopsy was done, however, the exact cause of death remains unclear.

The medical records will hopefully provide some answers as to whether the endoscopy clinic or Joan River’s personal physician were negligent in any way. A toxicology report seemingly contradicts statements made by the endoscopy clinic.

When plaintiffs sue for medical malpractice or wrongful death, they are often seeking monetary compensation, and that is more than appropriate. But beyond that, most families want answers. They want medical professionals to explain what they did and why problems occurred. Sadly, such candid confessions are often withheld until or unless a lawsuit is filed.

Source: Examiner, “Joan Rivers wrongful death lawsuits: Melissa will likely get millions of dollars,” Samantha Chang, Oct. 29, 2014

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