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A family says a Georgia doctor used too much force and decapitated a woman’s baby after it became stuck during delivery, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.
Plaintiff 20-year-old Jessica Ross is suing Dr. Tracey St. Julian and Southern Regional Medical Center, a hospital in Riverdale, Georgia, where she went into labor with her first child on July 9, the medical malpractice lawsuit filed in State Court in Clayton County shows.
USA Today reports Riverdale is suburb south of Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport and is part of the Atlanta metropolitan area.
The suit also names Taylor Treveon Isaiah, the child’s father, as a plaintiff and names Premier Women’s OBGYN LLC and two unidentified individuals Jane Doe and John Doe, as defendants.
Lawsuit alleges gross negligence during delivery
According to the suit, which alleges gross negligence, fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress, the baby got stuck during delivery, but St. Julian slowed a surgical procedure and failed to seek help quickly.
The family alleges the doctor applied “ridiculously excessive force” on the baby’s head and neck to try to deliver it, attorney Roderick Edmond, who represents the family and is also a physician, said.
According to the suit, nearly three hours passed before St. Julian performed a cesarean section on Ross. By then, a fetal monitor showed the baby’s heartbeat had stopped.
Edmond, a nationwide medical malpractice lawyer based in Atlanta, said the cesarean section removed the baby’s legs and body, but the head was delivered vaginally, according to USA TODAY.
“When they wrapped the baby up tightly, they propped the baby’s head on top of the blanket to make it appear like the head was attached when it wasn’t,” Edmond told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday.
Couple was denied C-section: Lawsuit
The couple, Edmond said, asked for a C-section earlier, at a time when the child could have lived, but were denied.
“They were so excited about the birth of their first child,” Cory Lynch, another couple who represents the parents, said at the press conference.
Lynch said ultimately, the parents “dreams and hopes turned into a nightmare” covered up by Southern Regional Medical Center.
The suit seeks unspecified punitive damages.
Hospital ‘denies the allegations’
Southern Regional Medical Center Spokesperson Kimberly Golden-Benner told USA TODAY the hospital could not comment on pending litigation but “denies the allegations” against it.
“Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the family and all those impacted by this tragic event,” the hospital released in a statement. “Our prayers also remain with the dedicated team of physicians, nurses and staff at Southern Regional Medical Center who cared for this patient.”
The statement goes onto read St. Julian “is not and never has been an employee of the hospital, and the hospital has taken appropriate steps in response to this unfortunate situation.”
The hospital declined to elaborate on those steps, Golden-Benner told USA TODAY.
“Our commitment is to provide compassionate, quality care to every single patient, and this loss is heartbreaking,” the statement reads.
An email message sent to St. Julian’s office was not immediately returned and a call the office went unanswered.
It was not immediately known whether she had an attorney.
According to its website, St. Julian is part of a health care group called Premier Women’s OBGYN with two locations offering circumcisions, infertility treatment and other services in addition to low- and high-risk obstetric care. St. Julian is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist who has been practicing in the Atlanta area since January 2005, the website says.
Clayton County Police Department posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as twitter, the department is investigating the child’s death.
“We are in the preliminary phase of an active and ongoing investigation at this time,” the department wrote. “We will not able to provide additional details at this time due to the nature of the open investigation.”