This story contains sensitive material about childbirth that may be triggering.
A family claims a Georgia doctor used too much force and beheaded a woman's baby after it got stuck during delivery, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.
The 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, show the Clayton County medical malpractice lawsuit filed in state court.
Riverdale is a suburb south of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and is part of the Atlanta metropolitan area.
The lawsuit also names Taylor Treveon Isaiah, the child's father, as a plaintiff and Premier Women's OBGYN LLC and two unidentified individuals – Jane Doe and John Doe – as defendants.
The lawsuit alleges gross negligence in delivery
According to the lawsuit, which alleges gross negligence, fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress, the baby became stuck during delivery, but St. Julian delayed surgical intervention and failed to quickly seek help.
The family claims the doctor used “ridiculously excessive force” on the baby's head and neck to deliver him, said attorney Roderick Edmond, who represents the family and is also a doctor.
According to the lawsuit, nearly three hours passed before St. Julian performed a C-section on Ross. At that point, a fetal monitor showed the baby's heartbeat had stopped.
Edmond, a national medical malpractice attorney based in Atlanta, said the C-section removed the baby's legs and body but delivered the head vaginally.
“As they wrapped the baby tightly, they propped the baby's head on the blanket to make it appear as if the head was attached, even though it wasn't,” Edmond told reporters at a news conference Wednesday.
Lawsuit filed over arrest of pregnant woman:Lawsuit filed after facial recognition technology leads to wrongful arrest of pregnant woman
Couple denied cesarean section: lawsuit
The couple, Edmond said, had previously asked for a cesarean section at a time when the child could have lived, but was refused.
“They were so excited about the birth of their first child,” Cory Lynch, another couple representing the parents, said at the news conference.
Ultimately, Lynch said, the parents' “dreams and hopes turned into a nightmare” that was covered up by Southern Regional Medical Center.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified punitive damages.
White Supremacy Lawsuit:The Boston lawsuit against Patriot Front highlights the white supremacist group's increasing legal scrutiny
Hospital “denies the allegations”
Southern Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Kimberly Golden-Benner told USA TODAY the hospital could not comment on pending litigation but “denies the allegations.”
“Our sincere thoughts and prayers are with the family and everyone affected by this tragic event,” the hospital said in a statement. “Our prayers also go out to the dedicated team of physicians, nurses and staff at Southern Regional Medical Center who cared for this patient.”
The statement continued: “St. Julian is not and never has been an employee of the hospital and the hospital has taken appropriate action in response to this unfortunate situation.”
The hospital declined to elaborate on those steps, Golden-Benner told USA TODAY.
“Our goal is to provide compassionate, high-quality care to each and every patient and this loss is heartbreaking,” the statement said.
An email message sent to St. Julian's office was not immediately returned and a call to the office went unanswered. It was not immediately known whether she had a lawyer.
According to its website, St. Julian is part of a healthcare group called Premier Women's OBGYN with two locations that provide 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 posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, that the department was investigating the child's death.
“We are currently in the preliminary stages of an active and ongoing investigation,” the department wrote. “Due to the nature of the ongoing investigation, we are unable to provide further details at this time.”
Contribution: Associated Press
Natalie Neysa Alund covers breaking and breaking news for USA TODAY. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter @nataliealund.