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The anesthesiologist was getting nervous.

Joan Rivers, the comic known for her sassy wit and raspy voice, had been complaining of more than the usual hoarseness. Now Ms. Rivers was on the operating table at an Upper East Side clinic and her private doctor, Gwen Korovin, wanted to send a small instrument into her windpipe to take a second look at her vocal cords, according to a malpractice lawsuit filed Monday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

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