Artist News Legal

Jefferson Airplane founder sues hospital over treatment that left him unable to perform

By | Published on Monday 20 August 2018

Jefferson Airplane

Marty Balin, a founder member of both Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship, last week sued the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York over allegations that negligent treatment he received there means “his ability to sing and play in a band has been destroyed”.

Balin was in New York on a solo tour when he was taken to the emergency room at the Beth Israel Medical Center complaining of heart problems in 2016. He subsequently received a range of treatment at the facility, including open heart surgery.

Last week’s legal complaint accuses the hospital and one of its specialists of negligently performing a tracheotomy on Balin following the heart surgery. That procedure caused Balin to lose half his tongue and suffer a paralysed vocal chord, the lawsuit claims. Further negligence, it then says, resulted in a hand injury and the musician’s left thumb being amputated.

According to Law 360, the lawsuit states: “Mr Balin walked into the hospital able to speak and with a fully functional left hand. By the time Mr Balin was finally released from the hospital, he had lost half his tongue, so that he cannot speak or eat properly; he also has a paralysed vocal chord; he [has] a necrotic left hand and has lost his left thumb; he had become totally disabled and has never recovered properly”.

The lawsuit states that Balin should never have been admitted for surgery at the hospital in the first place, because it was in the process of being wound down and therefore didn’t have adequate staff on hand to treat a patient with a serious heart condition. Meanwhile, the hospital’s alleged negligence means the musician’s “ability to sing and play in a band has been destroyed” resulting in lost earnings.

The hospital has not as yet responded to the allegations made against both it and its staff.