A Georgia mother has filed a lawsuit against an Atlanta-area hospital and others alleging that a physician decapitated her baby after applying too much force during delivery. According to CNN, the incident occurred at the Southern Regional Medical Center in July.
The lawsuit, which was filed on Wednesday, alleges that the hospital tried to hide the circumstances surrounding the baby’s death from his family. The deceased baby’s parents were identified as Jessica Ross, 20, and her boyfriend Treveon Isaiah Taylor Sr. A family attorney also said Ross delivered the baby at full-term.
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 family’s attorney, Roderick Edmond, said the baby’s lower body was removed via the Cesarean section while his head came out via the vagina, The Associated Press reported. The attorney also said the baby’s death could have been avoided if the couple’s initial request for a Cesarean section wasn’t turned down.
A family spokesperson in a statement said that hospital staff subsequently told Ross and Taylor that they were “not allowed to touch or hold their child” when the couple “demanded to see and hold their baby.”
“Hospital staff allowed the young couple to only view their dead child,” the statement added. “During this viewing, their baby was wrapped tightly in a blanket with his head propped on top of his body in a manner such that those viewing him could not identify that he had been decapitated.
The baby’s autopsy results are yet to be released by the county medical examiner’s office. The office’s director, however, told CNN that the autopsy hasn’t been completed. The lawsuit also states 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 Dr. St. Julian is not a staff member. “The hospital has taken the appropriate steps in response to this unfortunate situation,” the statement said.
The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified punitive damages.