Georgia mother who claims her baby was decapitated during birth files lawsuit


A mother who claims her baby was decapitated during birth at a Georgia hospital last month filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the hospital and others involved in the birth, court documents show.

The lawsuit, filed in Clayton County, Georgia, accuses Southern Regional Medical Center of concealing the baby's cause of death from the family, including the mother, 20-year-old Jessica Ross, and her boyfriend, Treveon Isaiah Taylor Sr.

The medical center is located in Riverdale, about 13 miles south of downtown Atlanta. The baby, who was named after his father, was born on schedule, according to the family's attorney.

The county medical examiner's office has not yet released the baby's cause of death. The office is still working on the baby's autopsy, office director Brian Byars told CNN.

According to the lawsuit, Ross went into labor on July 9 and her doctor “attempted to deliver the baby vaginally, using various methods, including pulling on the baby's head.”

During the attempted birth, “the baby did not slide down properly due to shoulder dystocia,” the lawsuit states. This condition causes the baby's shoulders to become stuck in the vaginal canal.

The doctor “failed to act in accordance with medical standards,” the lawsuit says. The lawsuit alleges that the doctor “grossly” and “negligently applied excessive traction” to the baby's head and neck and “failed to timely and properly perform a cesarean section, resulting in the decapitation and death of Treveon Isaiah Taylor Jr.”

In a statement to CNN on Wednesday afternoon, Southern Regional Medical Center said it “denies the allegations made in the complaint against the hospital.”

According to the family spokesperson, Ross and Taylor asked to see and hold their baby, but hospital staff told them they were not allowed to touch or hold their child.

“The hospital staff only allowed the young couple to look at their dead child,” the family spokesman said in a statement.

“During this viewing, her baby was wrapped tightly in a blanket and his head was placed on his body in such a way that onlookers could not tell that he had been decapitated,” the statement said.

On Thursday, the Clayton County Coroner told CNN in a statement that his office is asking state authorities to investigate the incident. Byars said his office has contacted the Georgia Composite Medical Board “and requested that they also investigate the role of three physicians in this incident.”

He added that the office is in the process of notifying the Georgia Department of State's Board of Nursing “and will request that the nursing staff's role in this incident be investigated as well.”

Southern Regional Medical Center said it was unable to “discuss the care and treatment of specific patients” due to patient privacy laws and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

“Our deepest thoughts and prayers are with the family and all those affected by this tragic event,” the medical center's statement said. “Our prayers also go out to the dedicated team of doctors, nurses and staff at Southern Regional Medical Center who cared for this patient. Our commitment is to provide compassionate, quality care to each and every patient, and this loss is heartbreaking.”

“As this matter is a legal proceeding, we will refrain from providing any further information,” the statement said.

The doctor involved in the delivery was not an employee of the hospital, the statement said. “The hospital has taken appropriate steps in response to this unfortunate situation,” the statement said.

The lawsuit alleges negligence, among other things, against the defendants, which include the medical center and physician Dr. Tracey St. Julian. CNN's attempts to reach St. Julian at her private practice were unsuccessful.

The lawsuit calls for a jury trial, and the plaintiffs seek damages, including for the value of the baby's life, such as loss of lifetime earnings, and funeral and burial costs and expenses.

The county coroner's office expects to issue a statement on its findings Thursday, Byers said.