Court finds Georgia doctor liable for posting videos of decapitated baby 

Francis Akhalbey March 19, 2024
Jessica Ross' baby died during delivery at a Georgia hospital -- Photo Credit: Family of Treveon Isaiah Taylor Jr./CNN

A Georgia judge on Thursday found a doctor liable after a couple filed a lawsuit alleging that the medical official posted videos of their decapitated newborn baby on social media.

As previously reported by Face2Face Africa, Jessica Ross went into labor at the Southern Regional Medical Center in July last year. But her baby, Isaiah, died after a physician allegedly applied too much force during the delivery, causing decapitation.

In the wake of the fatal incident, Ross and her boyfriend, Treveon Isaiah Taylor Sr., had Dr. Jackson Gates perform an independent autopsy on their deceased baby, NBC News reported. But Gates, who owns the Medical Diagnostic Choices health facility, allegedly took to social media to share the autopsy videos of Baby Isaiah.

The September civil lawsuit filed against the doctor and his business stated that the videos were “graphic and grisly,” adding that the defendant did not also seek permission from the parents. The plaintiffs were also initially unaware Gates had shared autopsy videos of their deceased baby, the lawsuit stated.

The complaint also stated that Gates was paid $2,500 to conduct the autopsy on Baby Isaiah. The signed contract did not give Gates the go-ahead to publicly share the postmortem examination, the results, as well as photographs and videos. But the defendant on July 14 took to Instagram to share a video of the baby’s autopsy. The complaint stated that the video in question presented a “graphic and grisly detail” of a “postmortem examination of the decapitated, severed head of Baby Isaiah.”

And though Gates took that video down, he later went ahead to share two more autopsy videos of Baby Isaiah on Instagram, the complaint stated. That was on July 21. Besides being shocked and angered after becoming aware of the videos, the deceased baby’s parents said they also felt “humiliated and outraged.” A cease and desist letter demanding the removal of the videos was sent to the doctor by attorneys representing the plaintiffs.

A default judgment was ultimately granted in favor of the plaintiffs on Thursday as Gates and his business did not respond to the complaint, NBC News reported. The judge determined the defendants were liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, and fraud. The money to be awarded to the plaintiffs for damages will be decided during a bench trial.

Responding to the complaint on Monday, Gates told the news outlet that his actions did not contravene the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). According to the CDC, the federal act was put in place to “protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.”

“The HIPAA clause states that as a physician, I am within my capability of letting the public know when there’s a safety issue in health care, this baby was murdered,” Gates said. The doctor also said people became aware of the case because he addressed it.

“I have not violated HIPAA, it is not required by a physician to get consent to report a crime or some sort of health issue to the public,” he claimed. “I’ve been doing this for 15 years, publishing my autopsy cases to explain to the public the victimization of those persons who have died.”

In February, reported that the Clayton County Medical Examiner’s Office had ruled the baby’s death as a homicide. The medical examiner’s report stated that Baby Isaiah died as a result of “fracture-dislocation” of his upper cervical spine and spinal cord.

Ross has also filed a different lawsuit against the Southern Regional Medical Center and others alleging that the physician decapitated her baby after applying too much force during delivery.

The lawsuit states that the July 9 incident occurred after Ross went into labor, adding that her doctor, Tracey St. Julian, “attempted to deliver the baby vaginally using different methods including applying traction to the baby’s head.”

The complaint alleges that “the baby did not properly descend due to shoulder dystocia.” This condition, per Cleveland Clinic, happens “when one or both of your baby’s shoulders get stuck during vaginal delivery.”

The lawsuit alleges that the doctor “failed to practice according to medical standards” and also “grossly” and “negligently applied excessive traction” on the baby’s neck and head, CNN reported. The complaint also states that the physician, who is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, “failed to do a Cesarean section in a timely and proper manner, resulting in Treveon Isaiah Taylor Jr.’s decapitation and death.”

The lawsuit said that the hospital staff initially tried to talk the couple out of getting an autopsy and also urged them to cremate their deceased son, per The Associated Press.

Responding to the allegations in a statement to CNN, the Southern Regional Medical Center said it “denies the allegations in the complaint referencing the hospital.” 

“Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the family and all those impacted by this tragic event,” the statement added. “Our prayers also remain with the dedicated team of physicians, nurses and staff at Southern Regional Medical Center who cared for this patient. Our commitment is to provide compassionate, quality care to every single patient, and this loss is heartbreaking.”

“Since this matter is in litigation, we are refrained from providing any additional information.” The hospital also said the physician named in the lawsuit is not a staff member. “The hospital has taken the appropriate steps in response to this unfortunate situation,” the statement said.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 19, 2024


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