NEW YORK (AP) — While Joan Rivers lay sedated in a Manhattan clinic, her doctors performed unauthorized medical procedures, snapped a selfie with the comedian and failed to act as her vital signs deteriorated, according to a malpractice lawsuit filed Monday by her daughter, Melissa.
The 81-year-old comedian and star of "Fashion Police" on E! died Sept. 4, days after she went in for a routine endoscopy at Yorkville Endoscopy on Manhattan's Upper East Side and stopped breathing.
The lawsuit filed in Manhattan State Supreme Court paints a picture of a careless, cocky staff of doctors who ran roughshod over Rivers while she was unconscious, and it suggests that she died because of their incompetence. The suit seeks unspecified damages.
Melissa Rivers said in a statement that filing the lawsuit was one of the most difficult decisions she had to make.
"What ultimately guided me was my unwavering belief that no family should ever have to go through what my mother, Cooper and I have been through," she said, referring to her son. "The level of medical mismanagement, incompetency, disrespect and outrageous behavior is shocking and frankly, almost incomprehensible."
She said her mother deserved better.
The city's medical examiner found that Joan Rivers died of brain damage due to lack of oxygen after she stopped breathing during the endoscopy. Her death was classified as a therapeutic complication. The classification is not commonly used; more deaths are certified as accidents, homicides, suicides or natural causes. Negligence was not suspected. Had it been, it would have been listed as a contributing cause.
A statement from Yorkville said it wasn't appropriate to comment on the lawsuit.
"The Rivers family has, as it has always had, our deepest sympathies and condolences," the statement said. "The 51 physicians, nurses and staff who currently work at Yorkville remain firmly committed to providing the highest quality of care to their patients."
The lawsuit alleges that the doctors mishandled the endoscopy and performed another medical procedure called a laryngoscopy on Rivers' vocal cords without consent. When the anesthesiologist expressed concern over what the procedure would do to Rivers' ability to breathe, she was told she was being "paranoid" by the gastroenterologist performing the endoscopy, Dr. Lawrence Cohen, the suit said. He has since resigned.
Rivers' private ear, nose and throat specialist, Gwen Korovin, was introduced as an observer in the operating room but instead performed two procedures though she wasn't cleared to work at the clinic, the lawsuit said. Rivers crashed during the second — after Cohen snapped pictures of Rivers, and with Korovin, saying later he thought Rivers would want to see them, the suit said. Korovin then left the operating room to avoid being caught, according to the suit.
A message left with Korovin's attorney wasn't returned. Calls to her office and Cohen's office and home rang unanswered.
"To put it mildly, we are not just disappointed by the acts and omissions leading to the death of Joan Rivers, but we are outraged by the lack of care and concern for Ms. Rivers on the part of her treating physicians and the endoscopy center where the treatment was rendered," said Melissa Rivers' attorneys, Jeffrey Bloom and Ben Rubinowitz.
An investigation ordered by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found the clinic made several errors, including failing to keep proper medication records and snapping the cellphone photos. It also found the clinic failed to get informed consent for every procedure performed and failed to record Rivers' weight before the administration of sedation medication.
The clinic submitted a lengthy plan for fixes, but the changes weren't good enough and the federal agency said it would revoke accreditation unless the clinic was in better compliance by March 2. Yorkville said it was working with the agency.
The backstage farce "Birdman" topped the 21st annual Screen Actors Guild Award, winning best ensemble cast, even though its star, Michael Keaton, was upset by Eddie Redmayne in the most outstanding actor category.
Keaton led the "Birdman" cast, including Emma Stone, Edward Norton and Zach Galifianakis, in accepting the top honor from the acting guild, calling the profession "the ultimate team sport."
"Every time I turned around, I ran into another tremendous actor," said Keaton.
Oscar favorites Julianne Moore, Patricia Arquette and J.K. Simmons cemented their front-runner status in a ceremony that often serves as a kind of preview to the Academy Awards. But Redmayne's win for his performance as Stephen Hawking in "The Theory of Everything" was a slight surprise, especially since Keaton's performance as an egotistical, paranoid Hollywood has-been trying to mount a comeback on Broadway is in many ways an ode to acting.
Redmayne dedicated his SAG award — "this very wonderful skinny man," he said looking down at his blue statuette — to sufferers and victims of ALS.
Moore, widely considered the best-actress favorite, won most outstanding supporting actress for "Still Alice," in which she plays an academic with early onset Alzheimer's Disease. Accepting the award, she recalled an early lesson on the soap opera "As the World Turns," in which she played twin sisters, good and evil.
"Then I realized it was super boring to act by myself," said Moore.
Accepting the award for most outstanding supporting actor for his performance as a domineering jazz teacher in "Whiplash," Simmons thanked all 49 actors who appear in the drama.
"All of us actors are supporting actors," said Simmons, a veteran character actor. "Each of us is essential, completely crucial to the story because if there's one false moment, the train comes off the rails."
"Boyhood" star Patricia Arquette added the latest in a string of awards Sunday, taking the supporting actress honor for her performance, filmed over the course of 12 years.
"I can't tell you what this means to me," said Arquette. "I'm a fourth-generation actor. My family has been committed to acting for over a century, through feast or famine."
Because actors make up the largest portion of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the SAG Awards are also considered one of the most telling Oscar previews. Individually acting winners usually mirror each other exactly, or very nearly. Last year, the top four winners — Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, Lupita Nyong'o, Jared Leto — all went on to win Academy Awards after first scooping up SAG awards.
The predictive powers of the SAGs have been more checkered in matching its top award with eventual best-picture Oscar winners. In the last six years, SAG best-ensemble and Academy Award best-picture winners have lined up three times ("Argo," ''The King's Speech" and "Slumdog Millionaire"), while diverging just as often. Last year, the actors chose "American Hustle" over eventual Oscar winner "12 Years a Slave"; in 2011, they picked "The Help" over "The Artist"; and in 2009, "Inglourious Basterds" defeated "The Hurt Locker."
Sunday's show kicked things off with a pair of wins for the Netflix prison series "Orange Is the New Black," honoring it as best ensemble in a comedy and naming Uza Abuda most outstanding actress in a comedy series. Abuda won over a number of veteran stars, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("Veep") and Edie Falco ("Nurse Jackie").
Best ensemble cast in a drama series went to "Downton Abbey," the second time the series has won the category.
On Saturday night, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Birdman" took the top award from the Producers Guild Awards, suggesting it may be formidable competition to the perceived front-runner, Richard Linklater's "Boyhood." The last seven PGA winners have also won best picture at the Academy Awards.
Two actors who usually reside on the big screen won the SAG awards for performances in a miniseries or TV movie: Mark Ruffalo (for HBO's "A Normal Heart") and Frances McDormand (for HBO's "Olive Kitteredge"). Kevin Spacey ("House of Cards"), William H. Macy ("Shameless") and Viola Davis ("How to Get Away With Murder") also collected awards.
Davis thanked the producers of the legal dram "for thinking that a sexualized, messy, mysterious woman could be a 49-year-old, dark-skinned African American woman who looks me."
Debbie Reynolds, the "Singin' in the Rain" star, was honored with the SAG lifetime achievement award, which her daughter, Carrie Fisher, presented. The 82-year-old Reynolds embarrassed Fischer with a story, recalling that her bun in the famous musical led her to warn her daughter ahead of playing Princess Leia in "Star Wars."
"I said, 'Well, Carrie, be careful of any weird hairdos,'" said Reynolds. "So luckily George gave her two buns."
She also remembered 1964's "The Unsinkable Molly Brown."
"In that movie I got to sing a wonderful song 'I Ain't Down Yet,'" said Reynolds. "Well, I ain't."
Los Angeles (AP) • Any film credited with its own “mustache wrangler” really should have been much more fun than Johnny Depp’s latest misfiring action-comedy.Mostly set in contemporary England, but aiming for the zingy retro feel of a vintage Peter Sellers or Terry-Thomas feature from the Swinging Sixties, “Mortdecai” is an anachronistic mess that never succeeds in re-creating the breezy tone or snappy rhythm of the classic caper movies that it aims to pastiche. Despite a heavyweight cast and the solid directing skills of A-list screenwriter David Koepp (“Jurassic Park,” “Panic Room,” “Spider-Man”), this charmless farce ends up as another black mark on Depp’s recent track record of patchy pet projects.“Mortdecai” is based on the first in a series of irreverent comic novels by Kyril Bonfiglioli, a British author of Italian and Slovenian heritage. Published in the 1970s, the books chronicle the amoral antics of aristocratic British art dealer Lord Charlie Mortdecai (Depp), who is aided on his drink-sodden adventures by his thuggish but resourceful and sexually irresistible manservant Jock Strapp (Paul Bettany).Depp plays Mortdecai as a human Looney Tunes character, a snobbish playboy narcissist so enamored of his comically absurd new mustache that he risks driving his disapproving wife, Johanna (Gwyneth Paltrow), to divorce. Teetering on the brink of bankruptcy in his grand, stately home, the disreputable gap-toothed rogue spots a chance to escape financial ruin when a rare Goya canvas goes missing after a lethal robbery. Grudgingly recruited for his art-world expertise by suave MI5 agent and longtime love rival Alistair Martland (Ewan McGregor), Mortdecai jets off around the globe on a mission to find the stolen painting and exploit the priceless secret rumored to be hidden on its reverse side.Depp is known for channeling real role models into his characters, often drawing on his musician heroes, most famously Keith Richards in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. In his accent and mannerisms, Charlie Mortdecai appears to owe a heavy debt to the small-screen creations of Depp’s friend, the British TV comedian Paul Whitehouse. Depp has previously guested on Whitehouse’s long-running BBC sketch comedy “The Fast Show,” and frequently offers him supporting roles in his film projects, including this one. Here he plays Mortdecai’s colorfully foul-mouthed car mechanic, who also has a shady sideline fencing stolen artworks.“Mortdecai” is stuffed with star names and classic farce ingredients, but its fatal flaw is an almost surreal lack of jokes. The main players spend almost every scene mugging desperately for the camera, milking every possible lowbrow sexual innuendo and clumsy slapstick mishap in novice screenwriter Eric Aronson’s thin script. Ironically, these overcooked performances are often more hindrance than help when the occasional funny line arises.