Parents sue doctor for posting autopsy videos of their deceased baby

Lawsuit says parents suffered “mental and emotional” pain from the Instagram exposure

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

The parents of a newborn baby who was decapitated during a difficult delivery in July have filed a second lawsuit — this one against the physician they hired to conduct a private autopsy in their baby’s death.

Jessica Ross and Treveon Isaiah Taylor Sr., of Clayton County allege that Atlanta physician Dr. Jackson L. Gates posted graphic images of their infant son on his Instagram account. They say in their lawsuit, filed Sept. 1 in state court in Fulton County, that Gates’ posting caused them “feelings of shock, anger, humiliation and outrage,” and that they “endured mental and emotional pain and suffering.”

Earlier, the parents filed a lawsuit against the attending physician, Dr. Tracey St. Julian, claiming she used excessive force during the delivery at Southern Regional Medical Center. The first lawsuit also names the hospital and includes as defendants several unidentified nurses who allegedly swaddled Baby Isaiah with blankets in such a way as to conceal the decapitation from his parents and only let them view him from glass window.

The infant suffered a sudden and rare condition known as shoulder dystocia — a life-threatening delivery development in which one or both of the baby’s shoulders become locked in the mother’s pelvis, preventing it from descending further in the birth canal. According to The Cleveland Clinic, the crisis can cause the baby to suffer from a potentially fatal lack of oxygen and other complications, including fractured collarbones and limbs injured as the physician tries to free it for delivery.



Southern Regional Medical Center cited privacy laws for not being able to discuss the case but denies any wrongdoing, saying “but we can state this unfortunate infant death occurred in utero prior to the delivery and decapitation.

“The hospital voluntarily reported the death to the Clayton County Medical Examiner’s office and is cooperating with all investigations,” it continued.

Dr. Roderick E. Edmond, one of the attorneys representing the family, said the timing of the baby’s death would be investigated.

Gates, according to the new complaint, allegedly acquired video images that were taken during the postmortem examination and later posted them on social media. The parents say in their lawsuit that they never gave Gates permission to video-record the postmortem examination of their son.

On July 14, Gates allegedly uploaded a video to his Instagram account, showing the examination “in graphic and grisly detail,” according to the lawsuit. The complaint says that Gates later took the video down, removed that video, but “on July 21, posted two more videos on Instagram from the postmortem examination of Baby Isaiah.

Attorney Cory Lynch, who also represents the family, alleged Gates was posting the images for “likes and follows.” He said that Gates’ Instagram page had 8,346 followers on July 14. Currently, said Lynch, it numbers about 11,000.

Also named in the latest complaint is Gates Rapid Diagnostic Laboratory of Atlanta, doing business as Medical Diagnostic Choices.

Gates, who was reached by phone on Tuesday and asked about the lawsuit, said he “couldn’t talk about that right now” and referred calls to an attorney who said he had not comment.

Ross and Taylor are seeking a jury trial and unspecified monetary damages. In their earlier lawsuit.

Statistics may vary, but according to the Cleveland Clinic, shoulder dystocia occurs in 0.6% to 1.4% of babies weighing between 5 pounds, 8 ounces and 8 pounds, 13 ounces at birth. This rate rises to 5% to 9% of babies born weighing more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces.

Increased risk factors include pre-existing or gestational diabetes; macrosomia, babies weighing more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces at birth; the mother’s short stature, abnormal pelvic structure and shoulder dystocia in a previous pregnancy, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Ross had been diagnosed with Type II diabetes.

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