In a recently-released report, the Clayton County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that the newborn infant’s death could be characterized as homicide, since it was caused by “the actions of another person.”
An attorney representing a Georgia couple whose newborn was decapitated during delivery last year said that the hospital and attending physician likely withheld information about the baby’s actual cause of death.
According to NBC News, the lawyer’s statement coincided with the release of a report commissioned by the Clayton County Medical Examiner’s Office, which said that the infant’s death has been ruled a homicide.
Roderick Edmond, the attorney representing plaintiffs Jessica Ross and Traveon Isaiah Taylor, reiterated claims that the couple’s obstetrician—Dr. Tracey St. Julian—had failed to inform them that their baby had died by decapitation.
Instead. St. Julian and other hospitals staff allegedly told Ross and Taylor that they did not have a right to free autopsy, while encouraging that they cremate their infant without delay.
“When Ms. Ross and Mr. Taylor demanded to see and hold their baby, hospital staff told them that they were not allowed to touch or hold their child,” the lawsuit states. “Hospital staff allowed the young couple to only view their dead child. During this viewing, their baby was wrapped tightly in a blanket with his head propped up on top of his body in a manner such that those viewing him could not identify that he had been decapitated.”
On Wednesday, Edmon emphasized how unusual and traumatic this particular case has been.
“Every aspect of the evidence that shows what happened is traumatizing,” Edmon said. “It’s something I’ve never seen in my life.”
During Ross’s labor, St. Julian purportedly used “ridiculously excessive force” when trying to deliver the infant—an allegation that appears to have been vindicated by the Clayton County Medical Examiner’s Office.
In its cause-of-death report, the Clayton County Medical Examiner’s Office said that the baby’s death had been caused by the “actions of another person.” The infant’s death, the medical examiner said, was a direct result of a fracture to the cervical vertebrae in the spin, which was presumably broken during delivery.
Ross, notes NBC News, had preemptively asked for a cesarian section but was denied permission. She spent an estimated three hours in labor, prompting St. Julian to employ different methods to ease delivery.
One of these methods included the application of traction to the baby’s head, allegedly performed with much more force than either necessary or typical.
The lawsuit suggests that the defendants—St. Julian, several individual nurses, and Southern Regional Medical Center, among others—did “not meet the standards of care.”
“We’re going to depose everyone who was in the room,” Edmon said on Wednesday. “All the nurses, all the scrub techs—everybody—to find out, essentially, what the hell happened.”
Cory Lynch, another attorney representing the couple, said that their baby’s death “has been tough on the whole family.”
“They have been strong and resilient with trying to move forward with life and get back to—not normal—but a new normal, given the grief they have sustained,” Lynch said.