Posted on August 14, 2023

Couple Sues Doctor, Hospital After Baby Was ‘Decapitated’ in Childbirth

Daniel Wu, Washington Post, August 11, 2023

Jessica Ross was distraught when she emerged from an operating room and learned that her son had died in childbirth. Ross had struggled for hours the previous evening to deliver her baby, whose shoulders had become stuck mid-delivery in a complication known as shoulder dystocia, according to a lawsuit.

Tracey St. Julian, Ross’s obstetrician, pulled forcefully on her son’s head in an effort to deliver him, according to Ross’s attorneys. She was unsuccessful, and instead tried to deliver him through a Caesarean section, the lawsuit states.

Tracey St. Julian

Tracey St. Julian

When Ross came to, St. Julian told her that her son had suffered trauma to his neck and did not survive the delivery, according to Ross’s attorneys. Ross asked if the hospital could perform an autopsy and was allegedly discouraged by hospital staff, who suggested that she have her son cremated. Ross sent her son’s body to a funeral home instead, her attorneys said.

Then, three days after the operation, Ross’s attorneys said she received a startling call from the funeral home: Her son had arrived decapitated.

The injury happened during the C-section, St. Julian allegedly told her later that day.

Ross and her partner, Treveon Isaiah Taylor Sr., sued St. Julian; St. Julian’s practice, Premier Women’s OB/GYN; and the Riverdale, Ga., hospital, Southern Regional Medical Center on Wednesday, alleging gross negligence and seeking damages for what their attorneys called an egregious example of the crisis in maternal care facing Black mothers in the United States.


“They were both, and the families, tremendously excited about the prospect of having the son,” Roderick Edmond, an attorney for Ross, told The Washington Post.


St. Julian attempted to deliver Ross’s baby for a “significant” amount of time and only prescribed a C-section around midnight, according to the lawsuit. {snip}

After the C-section, St. Julian did not tell Ross that her baby had been decapitated, according to the lawsuit. Cory Lynch, another attorney for Ross, said Wednesday that Southern Regional Medical Center did not allow Ross or Taylor Sr. to hold their son and that the couple only saw Taylor Jr. through a window {snip}


Edmond added that while he was not alleging the negligence in Ross’s childbirth was intentional, the case exemplified the disparities in maternal health for Black women.

“The reality is that, for whatever reason, people who look like Ms. Ross, who are about her age and her demographic, their babies wind up dying, and so do the women,” Edmond said. “There’s a statistical problem going on in this nation. Now this is a classic example of another statistic.”