3 Celebrity Deaths Due to Medical Malpractice

August 13, 2018


Celebrities seem to have lives that are so glamorous, that it’s often stunning that they face the same tragedies as we all do. For example, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States (behind heart disease and cancer), and celebrities aren’t immune. Even some of our most treasured figures have been lost to these unnecessary deaths….

Michael Jackson

Pop star icon Michael Jackson’s sudden death in 2009 shocked the world. Even more shocking was the revelation that Jackson’s death was the result of an overdose of potent sleeping drugs administered by his personal physician.

In 2011, jurors found Jackson’s personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, responsible for Jackson’s death: He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Trial testimony revealed that Dr. Murray regularly administered propofol, a surgical anesthetic, to Jackson, as a sleep-aid, but he kept no records of dosages and no monitoring equipment. Dr. Murray also failed to call 911 right away when he found Jackson unresponsive, and he failed to tell paramedics about the propofol. A judge later sentenced Dr. Murray to four years in prison, and he lost his medical license.


Joan Rivers

Comedienne and Fashion Police star Joan Rivers underwent a routine endoscopy on September 4, 2014, but she stopped breathing during the procedure at a New York clinic. Rivers died from brain damage from a lack of oxygen several days later. Her daughter sued the facility. She alleged that the doctors performed unauthorized procedures on Rivers, they’d failed to act as her vital signs deteriorated, and they even snapped selfies with Rivers. The clinic settled the medical malpractice suit for an undisclosed amount in 2016.


Phil and Brynn Hartman

In May 1998, Hollywood was rocked by the news that Brynn Hartman, wife of comedian Phil Hartman, shot her husband in his sleep and then took her own life.

Brynn Hartman’s brother subsequently sued Pfizer Inc. and Dr. Arthur Sorosky, on behalf of the Hartmans’ estate and their two children, Sean and Birgen. In the suit, the Hartman family alleged that Sean’s physician gave Brynn the antidepressant Zoloft two months before the murder-suicide without giving her a physical examination or taking her medical history. The family also sued Pfizer Inc., the manufacturer of Zoloft, arguing that the pharmaceutical company downplayed the side-effects of Zoloft, including violent or suicidal tendencies. Pfizer later settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed amount.


If you believe you or a loved one has been harmed by a medical error, let the skilled medical malpractice attorneys at Lowenthal & Abrams help. Contact us now for a free consultation.


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