Doctor made 8-minute call to stockbroker during emergency C-section, loses $33.8 million after baby born with brain damage

By Jessica Chia For and Associated Press

A Miami woman in the final stage of labor pleaded for a c-section after 90 minutes of pushing – but her doctor ignored her cries and walked out of the room in a delivery that left her baby brain damaged, according to a federal lawsuit.

Marla Dixon (pictured) pleaded for a c-section after 90 minutes of pushing   But her doctor ignored her cries in a delivery that left her baby Earl Jr (pictured) brain damaged

Earl Jr. (pictured with parents Dixon and Earl Reese-Thornton, Sr.) was suffocating during the prolonged labor. He can't speak or sit up by himself and needs to take dozens of pills every day

By the time the baby was delivered on Dec. 2, 2013 at the North Shore Medical Center in Florida, he was blue in the face and his limbs were limp, theMiami Herald reported.

It took a medical team to revive the infant named Earl Jr., and by then he had severe brain damage from lack of oxygen, according to the lawsuit filed by Dixon and the boy’s father, Earl Reese-Thornton, Sr.

Atogho had ordered nurses to administer the drug Pitocin for more than an hour to strengthen contractions.

But every time the uterus contracts, the baby’s blood supply is reduced, according to obstetrician Martin Gubernick, who testified in court.

Atogho also used a vacuum device to no avail, and the baby was suffocating after 90 minutes, according to court records.

While Dixon told the doctor, ‘Cut me. I want to be cut. I can’t do this anymore,’ Atogho did not offer to perform a C-section.

He even falsified her medical records and wrote ‘refused c/s’, according to a nurse in charge of delivery.

Had Atogho performed the C-section at least 16 minutes before EJ was born, Gubernick said there was ‘a reasonable degree of medical probability the baby would not have suffered damage’.

Doctor Ata Atogho lost the malpractice judgment, but is not responsible for paying up and continues to hold a Florida medical licenseTo top it off, Atogho walked out for long periods, and wasn’t even in the room when the baby finally emerged, according to court records. He appeared five minutes later and cut the umbilical cord.

Instead of apologizing, Atogho blamed Dixon for not pushing hard enough, she later said.

Dixon added: ‘He didn’t care. He kept going on with his lies. He blamed me.’

EJ has been hospitalized 30 times since Dixon was allowed to take him home at two months, according to Dixon’s attorney Richard Sharp.

He can’t speak or sit up by himself, and has to take dozens of pills every day, while his parents have learned to clean the feeding tube inserted into his stomach.

The $33.8million will help cover a life time of care for the boy.

Atogho did not respond to repeated phone calls and emails because he’s on vacation, according to an assistant at Metro-Miami Obstetrics and Gynecology in North Miami Beach, where he works.

Lawyers for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which represented Atogho in the Dixon case because he worked for the federally funded Jessie Trice Community Health Center at the time, refused to comment.

But as Dixon would later find out, she was not the first parent to sue Atogho for seriously injuring a newborn he delivered in 2013.

Atogho delivered two babies that year who were permanently brain damaged, and a third who was disabled for life, according to lawsuits filed by the injured infants’ mothers — all of whom were teen-aged moms receiving care at Jessie Trice, which serves many of Miami’s low-income and uninsured residents.

Despite the verdict in Dixon’s case, 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 U.S. government is on the hook for the money. Dixon and Reese-Thornton were able to sue the federal government because Atogho worked for a federally funded health clinic.

scroll to top