Joan Rivers’ doctor, Gwen Korovin, was subpoenaed in a $67 million wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of comedian John Ritter. Korovin, an ear, nose and throat specialist, allegedly refused service, claiming she had never treated Ritter.
“She, or people close to her, refused to accept service of the subpoena,” a source told In Touch. “She claimed she never treated Ritter.”
Ritter’s widow, actress Amy Yasbeck, filed a $67 million wrongful death lawsuit against several doctors after John died of an aortic dissection in 2003. Yasbeck lost that lawsuit in 2008, after a jury voted 9-3 in favor of the cardiologist who had treated Ritter.
It’s unclear how Joan Rivers’ personal physician was involved in the Ritter lawsuit, but Korovin has kept a low profile since last week, when she came under fire after witnesses told CNN she had snapped a selfie when Joan was under anesthesia.
Korovin, who boasts a huge celebrity clientele, including Lady Gaga, Hugh Jackman and Celine Dion, denied she took the selfie. Witnesses also claimed she performed an unauthorized biopsy that later caused Joan to stop breathing.
Multiple press reports claim Joan’s only child, daughter Melissa Rivers, is “absolutely” planning to file malpractice lawsuits against Korovin, Yorkville Endoscopy Clinic (where Joan had her throat surgery) and Dr. Lawrence Cohen, who had performed her endoscopy.
The New York City medical examiners office and the New York State Health Department are currently in the middle of separate investigations into the exact cause of Rivers’ death.
If investigators determine there has been egregious negligence, criminal charges may be filed against Korovin and Cohen that could lead to jail time, Vincent Parco, a former chief investigator for New York’s Office of Professional Medical Conduct, told the Enquirer.
Parco said if the allegations that Korovin performed an unauthorized biopsy are true, she “could face felony charges and up to three years in jail.”
Parco said Cohen, who had performed the routine endoscopy on Rivers, could be charged with “aiding and abetting” charges if it’s true that he allowed Korovin to do the biopsy in violation of medical procedures that require patient consent for biopsies.
Cohen has since resigned from Yorkville Endoscopy, and Korovin has denied performing a biopsy. So far, no one has been charged with any wrongdoing.
Dr. Mehmet Oz recently revealed Rivers was deathly afraid of anesthesia, and that he had warned her against getting more plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures as a result. “I’m reminded of a comment she made, very prescient,” said Dr. Oz. “I was giving her a hard time about plastic surgery and she said, ‘I’m not worried about surgery, I’m worried about the anesthesia.’”
A veteran litigator who spoke on condition of anonymity told me exclusively Melissa would likely be awarded tens of millions of dollars in her wrongful death lawsuit because Joan was earning a robust income at the time of her death.
Because of Melissa’s financial dependence on her mother, she could easily make a claim for lost income, explained the attorney, a former litigator at Simpson Thacher and the Department of Justice.
The possible malpractice on multiple levels — from the endoscopy physician (Lawrence Cohen) to Joan’s personal doctor (Gwen Korovin) to Yorkville Endoscopy Clinic (for allowing Korovin to perform an unauthorized biopsy) — makes it highly likely Melissa will prevail and win big. So far, no one has been charged with any wrongdoing.