Melissa Rivers Learned Mom Joan's Last Words During Wrongful Death Lawsuit but Says Those 'Will Remain Personal'

Melissa Rivers recently settled a lawsuit against a New York clinic prompted by her mother, Joan Rivers', death

Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty

brightcove.createExperiences(); Melissa Rivers says she learned the final words of her mother Joan Rivers as a result of the lawsuit she filed against the clinic where the comedian underwent the surgery that led to her death.

Rivers, 48, spoke with the Today show‘s Matt Lauer after settling the suit and revealed that she learned her mother’s last words during the “emotional” discovery process in her civil suit against New York clinic Yorkville Endoscopy Center.

“As part of the process, she got to learn what her mom’s last words were,” Lauer said. “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.”

Joan stopped breathing during a routine throat procedure on her vocal cords at the clinic in August 2014 and died a week later. She was 81.

Rivers sued the clinic in January 2015, alleging that doctors performed unapproved procedures on her mother and waited more than 10 minutes to call 911 when Joan stopped breathing. Rivers said her mother’s death was “100 percent preventable”.

Rivers announced this week that the lawsuit has been settled, but did not provide details, including the amount involved.

“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, “she said in a statement on Thursday.

A rep for Rivers’ family told Today that the civil suit was settled so quickly that no depositions took place.

He said the “lightening fast” nature of the settlement suggests that “the doctors had a lot to answer for.”

In a statement to Today, lawyers for the clinic said both parties “agreed to settle this case to avoid protracted litigation.”

“We remain committed to providing quality, compassionate healthcare services that meet the needs of our patients, their families and the community,” officials said in the statement.

As for Rivers, the mom of one said, “moving forward,” her focus will be 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,” Rivers continued in the statement.

“I want to express my personal gratitude to my legal team for their wise counsel and prompt resolution of this.”

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