Couple alleges delayed C-section caused death of their newborn daughter

A man and woman are suing the UC Regents, alleging an obstetrician's delay in performing a C-section on the pregnant woman led to the death of the couple's baby girl less than a week after her birth in 2021 at Ronald Reagan-UCLA Medical Center.

John St. Martin and Laura St. Martin brought the lawsuit Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court , alleging medical malpractice resulting in personal injuries and wrongful death and intentional infliction of emotional distress. John St. Martin also is suing for loss of consortium.

The couple seeks unspecified damages, including medical, funeral and burial expenses. A UCLA representative could not be immediately reached for comment.

The baby, Emily Page St. Martin, was born March 10, 2021 at Ronald Reagan-UCLA Medical Center and Dr. Radhika Rible, a co-defendant in the case, provided prenatal care to Laura St. Martin, the suit states.

The pregnancy had no complications based on all prenatal testing and imaging studies, according to the suit. The baby's mother, then 38 and having given birth to her first child, went to all her prenatal appointments and followed her physician's instructions, the suit states.

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Rible admitted the mother for induction of labor due to decreased fetal movement and low amniotic fluid, the suit states. Throughout the day and night before the baby's birth, fetal heart monitor strips began showing multiple episodes of prolonged variability and late decelerations, issues not noted by any of the team of doctors even though the findings were indicative of hypoxia and acidosis, the suit alleges.

The St. Martins maintain the standard of care for doctors practicing in labor and delivery required that an emergency C-section be performed no later than the afternoon of March 9, 2021, which they say would have resulted in the delivery of a healthy baby.

Instead, Rible breached the standard of care by "recklessly and despicably" attempting a vacuum-assisted delivery, causing the baby's head to become lodged in her mother's pelvis and causing injuries to the mother and her unborn child, the suit alleges.

Although Rible later did perform a C-section, her "reckless and oppressive unreasonable delay in delivery," compounded by her initial attempt to deliver the baby by vacuum-assisted vaginal delivery, caused the child to suffer a catastrophic hypoxic brain injury and die six days later on March 16, 2021, the suit states.

If the baby had been delivered by C-section on or before March 9, 2021, or even early on the day of her birth, she would likely have survived, the suit states.

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