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ATLANTA (AP) — A doctor used too much force and decapitated a Georgia woman’s baby during delivery, according to a lawsuit attorneys said was filed Wednesday.
The baby’s mother and father, Jessica Ross and Treveon Isaiah Taylor Sr., attended a news conference in Atlanta where their attorneys announced the lawsuit against Dr. Tracey St. Julian and Southern Regional Medical Center, a hospital in Riverdale, Georgia, where Ross went on July 9 to have her son. Riverdale is about 13 miles (20 kilometers) south of Atlanta.
“They were so excited about the birth of their first child,” said attorney Cory Lynch. “Unfortunately, their dreams and hopes turned into a nightmare that was covered up by Southern Regional Medical Center.”
Calls to St. Julian’s office went unanswered, and an email message was not immediately returned. The Associated Press was not able to determine whether she had an attorney.
Southern Regional said in statements it could not discuss treatment for particular patients due to privacy laws, but it denies the allegations against it. Its “heartfelt thoughts and prayers” were with Ross and Taylor and their care providers, it said.
“Our commitment is to provide compassionate, quality care to every single patient, and this loss is heartbreaking,” the hospital said. It later added that St. Julian was not an employee of the hospital, and it had “taken the appropriate steps in response to this unfortunate situation.”
A spokeswoman, Kimberly Golden-Benner, said the hospital could not elaborate. St. Julian is part of a health care group called Premier Women’s Obgyn that has two locations and offers circumcisions, infertility treatment and other services in addition to low- and high-risk obstetric care, according to its website. St. Julian is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist who has been practicing in the Atlanta area since January 2005, the website says.
According to the suit, the baby got stuck during delivery, but St. Julian delayed a surgical procedure and failed to seek help quickly. Instead, she applied “ridiculously excessive force” on the baby’s head and neck to try to deliver it, attorney Roderick Edmond, who is also a physician, said.
Roughly three hours passed before St. Julian took Ross, 20, for a cesarean section, according to the suit. By then, a fetal monitor had stopped registering a heartbeat.
The cesarean section removed the baby’s legs and body, but the head was delivered vaginally, according to Edmond.
The couple asked for a C-section earlier, when the baby still could have survived, but were denied, Edmond said.
He said the case highlighted the higher rates of infant and maternal mortality for Black women.
Ross and Taylor, 21, did not speak at Wednesday’s news conference. Their attorneys also accused Southern Regional staff of trying to cover up the decapitation by discouraging the couple from getting an autopsy, encouraging them to have their son cremated and wrapping and propping his body to make it appear the head was still attached.
The suit alleges gross negligence, fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It seeks unspecified punitive damages.