Doctor Took Photos of Joan Rivers During Surgery, According to New Court Docs

Joan Rivers (Getty Images0
Joan Rivers (Getty Images0

One of Joan Rivers' doctors did snap photos of her while she was under anesthesia during her fatal throat surgery, new court papers state.

In documents filed in Melissa Rivers's multimillion-dollar malpractice lawsuit against Yorkville Endoscopy, lawyers say that Dr. Lawrence Cohen — the former medical director at the facility, who is also a defendant in the case — took photos of a sedated Joan with her personal ear-nose-throat physician, Dr. Gwen Korovin, while Joan was under anesthesia. They state that the photos are corroborated by multiple sources, including the clinic's own records and the medical examiner's report.

Related: Melissa Rivers Says Joan Rivers's Death 'Was 100 Percent Preventable'

The filing, which was obtained by The Insider With Yahoo, references the medical examiner's interview with anesthesiologist Renuka Bankulla, who is also a defendant in the case. Bankulla said that Cohen "took out his mobile phone and took photos of Dr. Korovin with (Miss Rivers)."


Bankulla's own notes in her medical records said that Cohen "proceeded to take pictures of the surgeon and his patient with his cell phone."

In addition to Bankulla, clinic director Daniel Adler acknowledged to Melissa in a letter that more than one staff member present during the procedure had claimed that Cohen had taken pictures of Joan, according to the New York Daily News.

The papers — which revealed other details of Joan's ill-fated surgery — noted that Cohen denied that he took the photograph, so the plaintiff's lawyers want him to state, under oath, "whether or not such a photograph was taken so as to determine its whereabouts and prevent any distribution of it."

In May, Melissa opened up about the loss of her mother on the Today show, saying that the thing that hurt the most about the botched routine endoscopy, which Joan had on Aug. 28, were the photos.

"I think the selfie," Joan's only daughter said. "There was a story circulating that, during the procedure, the doctors were taking selfies of themselves, with my mother, while they were working on my mom."

Melissa went on to share her reasons for the lawsuit.

"If something happens and everyone does everything properly, things happen. You live with it," she explained. "When it's error after error after error after error after behaviors that you cannot even begin to get your head around, you get mad."