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Georgia doctor who posted videos of decapitated baby found liable in court

Dr. Jackson Gates allegedly posted videos of his autopsy of the decapitated newborn without the knowledge or permission of the infant's parents.
Attorney Cory Lynch, left, Treveon Isaiah Taylor, Sr.,and Jessica Ross speak during a news conference
Attorney Cory Lynch, left, Treveon Isaiah Taylor Sr. and Jessica Ross speak at a news conference in Atlanta on Aug. 9.Sudhin Thanawala / AP

A Georgia doctor who was sued by a couple who accused him of posting their decapitated newborn baby on social media has been found liable in court. 

Dr. Jackson Gates and his business, Medical Diagnostic Choices, were sued in civil court by Jessica Ross and Treveon Isaiah Taylor Sr. in September.

They had hired him to perform an independent autopsy on their baby, who they called Baby Isaiah. The baby died during delivery in July 2023, after which Gates allegedly posted “graphic and grisly” videos of the autopsy on social media without the parents’ knowledge or consent. 

On Thursday, a Fulton County judge granted a default judgement against Gates and his business because they failed to respond to the civil suit. They were found liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy and fraud. 

However, the merits of the claims in the suit were not determined. A bench trial will determine the amount of damages owed to the parents. 

An attorney for the couple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gates told NBC News on Monday that what he did was not a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly referred to as HIPAA, which protects sensitive patient health information from being disclosed.

“The HIPAA clause states that as a physician, I am within my capability of letting the public know when there’s a safety issue in health care, this baby was murdered,” he said, adding no one would have known about the case had he not spoken about it. 

"I have not violated HIPAA, it is not required by a physician to get consent to report a crime or some sort of health issue to the public," he said. “I’ve been doing this for 15 years, publishing my autopsy cases to explain to the public the victimization of those persons who have died."

Ross and Taylor’s baby was dead at the time of his delivery on July 10, according to the complaint.

On July 12, Ross signed a contract with Gates to conduct an autopsy of Baby Isaiah in exchange for $2,500. That contact, however, did not give Gates or his business permission to release the postmortem examination, its results, nor photographs or video taken from it to the public. But on July 14, Gates uploaded a video to his Instagram account that showed “in graphic and grisly detail a postmortem examination of the decapitated, severed head of Baby Isaiah,” the complaint said.

He then removed that video, but on July 21 posted on Instagram two more videos from the examination, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs later learned about the videos and felt “shock, anger humiliation and outrage.” 

Their attorneys sent a cease and desist letter to Gates in August to remove the videos. 

Ultimately, the Clayton County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Baby Isaiah's death as a homicide caused by “actions of another person.” The baby’s death directly resulted from a fracture of cervical vertebrae in the spine, it said.

The couple also had filed a lawsuit against the hospital and obstetrician who helped birth the baby, claiming that complications in the delivery led to the child’s death. 

In that case, the doctor sued, was a member of a private practice and not employed by the hospital where the delivery took place, Southern Regional Medical Center in Riverdale. In August, the medical center denied “the allegations of wrongdoing” and said “this unfortunate infant death occurred in utero prior to the delivery and decapitation.”