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$33.8 Million Judgment Reached In Malpractice Lawsuit

— May 3, 2017

$33.8 Million Judgment Reached In Malpractice Lawsuit

A $33.8 million judgment is reached in a malpractice lawsuit.  Marla Dixon, 19, was in the middle of her labor with her soon-to-be born baby boy, in the final crucial moments, when her obstetrician, Ata Atogho of Metro-Miami Obstetrics and Gynecology in North Miami Beach, arrived in the hospital room at North Shore Medical Center in Miami, Florida. Atogho worked at the federally funded Jessie Trice Community Health Center, which helps many of Miami’s low income and uninsured residents, at the time of Dixon’s delivery.  He ordered the nurses aiding Dixon to restart a drug used to induce her contractions, then failed to perform a proper Cesarean section (C-section). During these critical moments of delivery, the doctor walked away from Dixon’s side for long periods of time, including to retrieve an eight-minute phone call from his stockbroker.

$33.8 Million Judgment Reached In Malpractice Lawsuit
Image Courtesy of Miami Herald

When Dixon’s son was finally delivered, his coloring was blue and his limbs weren’t moving.  It took a medical team to bring the baby back to life, and by the time the staff revived him, the boy had suffered severe brain damage due to a lack of oxygen.  Atogho would later blame the mother for not putting forth the effort needed to push, and also tried to avoid litigation by falsifying Dixon’s medical records, noting his patient had refused a C-section and a decision to avoid one was reached.  

Dixon’s husband, Earl Reese-Thorton, Sr., wasn’t about to let their doctor get away with what he’d done to his family.  He immediately filed a lawsuit against Atogho.  “Not one time did he apologize,” Marla said. “He didn’t care.  He kept going on with his lies.  He blamed me.”  And, it wasn’t the first time a parent had an issue with Atogho’s work.  He was sued in 2013 for seriously injuring a newborn he delivered and the plaintiff received $92,200.  The patient accused Atogho of rushing to deliver her baby,  using a vacuum device that disfigured her daughter.  The child was born with permanent damage to nerves in her shoulder and neck.

$33.8 Million Judgment Reached In Malpractice Lawsuit
Image Courtesy of

Atogho actually delivered multiple babies that year, who suffered brain damage or were otherwise disabled for life.  In one  case, which has not yet gone to trial, a baby was delivered by Atogho in May of 2013.  The mother, 19, accused Atogho of ignoring signs that her baby was in distress and waiting too long to perform an emergency C-section, causing permanent brain damage to her daughter.  All injured infants were born to teenage mothers under the care of Jessie Trice physicians.  

Atogho claimed a head nurse at Dixon’s delivery had indicated the patient did not wish to proceed with the C-section.  However, that same nurse testified against Atogho at trial before the judgment was reached, stating this simply wasn’t true.  “Up until then, it was [Dixon’s] word against the doctor’s,” attorney Richard ‘Bo’ Sharp, who is representing Atogho, said.  Using the testimony from the nurse on duty with the multitude of other evidence against the doctor, U.S. District Judge Robert Scola issued a verdict in favor of the family, and the couple is hoping the court’s judgment will assist them with the financial needs of providing 24-7 round-the-clock care for their son.  

Although a judgment was reached, Atogho has not received a reprimand and no other disciplinary action has been taken against his Florida medical license for the incident. He’s not personally liable for the $33.8 million judgment, either.  The government will cover the bill, since Atogho was employed at the federally funded medical center, where he began working in 2012, and signed a contract assuring he would be paid $350 for every child he delivered.  “Over those years we’ve delivered tens of thousands of babies,” Annie Neasman, president and CEO of Jessie Trice, said. “For the most part, there have not been issues with the delivery and the quality of our services.”  Atogho personally delivered 2,000 babies prior to Dixon’s son.


A doctor called his broker during a delivery. It will cost $33.8 million.

Miami doctor’s call to broker during baby’s delivery leads to $33.8 million judgment

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