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A newborn died and St. Joseph’s Hospital lost his body, lawsuit says

The parents are seeking damages for emotional distress and psychological trauma.
The entrance to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, where a baby's body was lost earlier this year and has not been found, according to a lawsuit.
The entrance to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, where a baby's body was lost earlier this year and has not been found, according to a lawsuit. [ Google Maps ]
Published Aug. 7, 2020

TAMPA — A Gibsonton couple is suing St. Joseph’s Hospital, alleging the facility lost the body of their newborn son, Jacob, who died days after birth.

Kathryn and Travis Wilson have suffered physical and mental pain due to the incident, according to a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough County on June 9. It accuses the hospital of negligence and reckless infliction of emotional distress, and asks for more than $30,000 in damages.

The couple’s attorney, Douglas K. Burnetti, of Burnetti, P.A. in Tampa, declined to answer questions about the case. He said he is in private discussions with St. Joseph’s attorney and pointed a reporter to court filings for information.

In a statement, BayCare Health System, which owns and operates St. Joseph’s, apologized for the Wilsons’ loss. The company said the hospital has “investigated all avenues and fully cooperated in all search efforts” to find the baby’s body.

“Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the Wilsons for the loss of their child,” the statement said. “We also deeply regret not being able to account for the remains. St. Joseph’s leadership and all personnel in our morgues are committed that this unforeseen situation will not happen again.”

Jacob was born Feb. 25 and died at St. Joseph’s three days later, the lawsuit states. It does not specify a cause of death but says the hospital hired Brooksville company Metro Mortuary Transport, Inc., to take the baby’s body to Orlando Regional Medical Center for an autopsy.

The company returned the body to St. Joseph’s wrapped in blankets and a body bag, the lawsuit said, and the hospital called Kathryn Wilson on March 5 to tell her she could finalize funeral arrangements.

She and her husband then visited Serenity Meadows funeral home in Riverview on March 6 and provided details to the hospital the same day. But on March 11, someone called to say the boy’s body was missing.

The body still has not been located.

As a result, the Wilsons have suffered mental and psychological trauma, which has manifested as physical pain, anguish and loss of the capacity to enjoy life,” the lawsuit states.

It calls St. Joseph’s conduct “outrageous as to go beyond all bounds of decency as it is regarded odious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.”


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