Artist News Legal

Widow of Jefferson Airplane’s Marty Balin drops medical malpractice lawsuit

By | Published on Thursday 12 March 2020

Jefferson Airplane

The widow of Jefferson Airplane vocalist and guitarist Marty Balin has dropped a medical malpractice lawsuit originally filed by her late husband before his death in September 2018.

Shortly before his death, Marty Balin sued the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York over allegations that negligent treatment he received there had destroyed “his ability to sing and play in a band”.

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.

The 2018 legal complaint accused the hospital and one of its specialists of negligently performing a tracheotomy on Balin following the heart surgery. That procedure caused him to lose half his tongue and suffer a paralysed vocal chord, the lawsuit claimed. Further negligence, it then said, resulted in a hand injury and the musician’s left thumb being amputated.

The lawsuit stated: “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 cord; he [has] a necrotic left hand and has lost his left thumb; he had become totally disabled and has never recovered properly”.

Elsewhere in the original lawsuit it was claimed 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.

After Balin’s death, his wife took up the litigation, adding a wrongful death claim on the basis that the alleged negligent treatment in 2016 led to his death two years later.

However, last year her attorney withdrew from the case citing “irreconcilable differences” with his client, as well as personal circumstances, his wife having died after a protracted illness. The court agreed to delay the case while Balin sought a new lawyer and responded to discovery requests from the defendants. An additional extension was then granted in December, with a final deadline of 24 Mar set.

Balin has now confirmed that she will not be able to meet that deadline and has therefore requested that the case be dismissed. She said that she had struggled to hire a new attorney because lawyers she spoke to were concerned about meeting the court’s discovery deadline given the complexities of the case.

According to Law360, Balin wrote in a letter to the court that “while this case deserved to be heard and decided on the merits, I have to accept the reality that it will not”.

The New York court overseeing the dispute confirmed the case had been dismissed earlier this week.