Trevor Noah’s malpractice lawsuit claims surgery made him ‘sore, lame and disabled’

A man standing outdoors
Trevor Noah is suing a New York doctor and hospital over “permanent, severe, and grievous” injuries he said he suffered after a November 2020 surgery.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

“The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah has filed a malpractice lawsuit against a New York doctor and hospital after allegedly suffering “permanent, severe, and grievous” injuries following a November 2020 surgery.

The Comedy Central star filed the lawsuit in New York’s Supreme Court against orthopedic surgeon Dr. Riley J. Williams III and the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan last month, accusing them of professional negligence and seeking unspecified damages. The hospital rebutted the claims.

The 14-page complaint, filed on Nov. 29 and obtained by The Times on Monday, does not explicitly say what Noah was treated for between Aug. 25, 2020, and Dec. 17, 2020, nor does it specify the type of surgery he underwent on Nov. 23, 2020, only referring to his ailments as “various medical conditions and other related treatment, including surgery.” The lawsuit also accused the physician and facility — an academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health — of “failing to diagnose and properly treat the condition” Noah had.

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The lawsuit claimed that Noah was “rendered sick, sore, lame and disabled” and that he sustained “severe and painful personal injuries” as well as “nervous shock, mental anguish, severe emotional distress and great physical pain” as a result. The complaint also alleged that the 37-year-old comedian was confined to bed and home for a long period of time and underwent hospital and medical aid, treatment and attention for the ailment. He also allegedly suffered loss of enjoyment of life and “was prevented from engaging in his usual occupation for a long period of time.”


“Since some of his injuries are of a permanent nature, he will continue to suffer similar damages in the future,” the document said under each cause of action.

It’s unclear how Noah’s alleged ailments affected production on “The Daily Show,” which took a three-month hiatus over the summer and returned in September. Representatives for the late-night series did not immediately respond Monday to The Times’ request for additional comment. Nor did Noah’s attorney Justin Blitz, who filed the lawsuit.

The complaint said that the defendants failed to inform Noah of the risks, hazards and alternatives to the treatment and that they failed to obtain his informed consent so that said treatment could be given.

“A reasonably prudent person in the position of the plaintiff would have refused the treatment rendered, had they been so informed of the risks, hazards and alternatives to the treatment rendered,” it said.

Among Noah’s claims that the doctor and facility allegedly acted in “a negligent and careless manner,” the complaint also said that the defendants and their agents “failed to treat and care for [Noah] in accordance with the standards of care and treatment generally accepted in the community” and, among a list of other things, failed to prescribe proper medications; discontinue certain prescription medications; use proper tests and examinations.”

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In a Monday statement to The Times, the Hospital for Special Surgery declined to get into the specifics of Noah’s case.

“HSS received a complaint filed on behalf of Mr. Trevor Noah. We have shared with Mr. Noah’s attorney a detailed rebuttal to the claims, which are meritless,” a representative for the hospital and Williams said in a statement. “Due to HIPAA we are restricted by law from addressing publicly specific aspects of the treatment of any patient.”


The facility added that it is “committed to excellence in the care we provide to each of the more than 150,000 patients we treat each year.”

HSS was founded in 1863 and is the oldest orthopedic hospital in the United States, according to its website.