Metro Atlanta attorneys weigh in on liable doctor posting autopsy photos of decapitated baby online

ATLANTA — Local attorneys are now weighing in about privacy laws after a doctor was found liable for posting pictures of a decapitated baby to his social media page.

“There are privacy issues related to people’s health that you cannot release,” attorney Musa Ghnayem told Channel 2′s Audrey Washington on Thursday. “It’s so foreseeable that you are going to cause a great deal of stress to the family of this child,” Ghnayem added.

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Dr. Jackson Gates, an independent Pathologist, admits he posted autopsy pictures of a decapitated baby to his social media page.

He said he posted the pictures for educational purposes.

“I take my affirmation of the HIPPA oath extremely serious. I felt a need to expose this because I was just as shocked, like many people are, expressing emotional concern,” Dr. Gates said.

“It’s a HIPPA violation because he did not have permission to post this information,” attorney Brian Mendelsohn explained.

On Wednesday, a Fulton County judge ruled Gates liable because he failed to respond to the lawsuit, filed in September.

Gates said he did not respond because he didn’t have representation.

“I’m trying my best to seek a civil defense attorney,” Gates said.

The parents of the baby also filed a lawsuit against their OBGYN and Southern Regional Medical Center staff for allegedly lying and attempting to cover up the decapitation during childbirth.


On Thursday, attorney Brian Mendelsohn explained what Gates could face in court.

“I think aside from the civil liability the doctor faces a potential huge judgment, I think he also has to worry about the composite medical board going after his license,” Mendelsohn said.

Gates told Channel 2 Action News that he does not believe he violated HIPPA laws because he said he never identified the baby.

The default judgment will next go before a judge or a jury to determine how much money the parents of the baby are awarded.

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