Melissa Rivers settles malpractice lawsuit against outpatient clinic, learns mother Joan Rivers' last words
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/13/2016
Melissa Rivers has settled the lawsuit she filed following her mother Joan Rivers' tragic and "100 percent preventable" death and found out the iconic comedian's last words in the process.
Melissa, 48, went through an "emotional" discovery process in her civil suit against New York clinic Yorkville Endoscopy Center, where Joan had undergone a routine procedure on her vocal cords in August 2014 that resulted in a catastrophic brain injury and her death a week later at Mount Sinai Hospital.
"As part of the process, she got to learn what her mom's last words were," said the Today show's Matt Lauer. "She says those will remain personal, but she's satisfied that the doctors in the clinic have accepted responsibility for what happened to her mother."
Melissa revealed in a Thursday statement the lawsuit had been settled without providing additional details.
"I am able to put the legal aspects of my mother's death behind me and ensure that those culpable for her death have been responsible for their actions quickly and without equivocation," Melissa said.
A representative for Melissa's family noted the civil suit was settled so quickly that no depositions took place. He called the settlement "lightening fast," therefore suggesting "the doctors had a lot to answer for."
Lawyers for the outpatient clinic disclosed that both parties "agreed to settle this case to avoid protracted litigation," according to a statement obtained by Today. "We remain committed to providing quality, compassionate healthcare services that meet the needs of our patients, their families and the community."
Melissa is now reportedly "moving forward" with life, but at the same time, wants to "ensure that no one ever has to go through what my mother, [my son] Cooper and I went through."
"I will work towards ensuring higher safety standards in out-patient surgical clinics," Melissa continued in her statement. "I want to express my personal gratitude to my legal team for their wise counsel and prompt resolution of this."
In the January 2015 malpractice lawsuit, Melissa alleged doctors made "error after error" in that they didn't check Joan's vital signs enough, nor did they have a crash cart ready for a high-stress, traumatic situation. Melissa was also infuriated by claims the medical staff took selfies in the room while Joan was sedated.
In addition, Melissa alleged doctors performed unapproved procedures on Joan and waited more than 10 minutes to call 911 when the former Fashion Police star stopped breathing. Joan died at age 81 after being placed in a medically-induced coma.
Melissa and Joan were longtime creative partners. In addition to their jobs with Fashion Police, they had also both appeared on The Celebrity Apprentice and Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best reality series.