Yesterday (May 4), Charles Johnson IV filed a lawsuit against Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, alleging a culture of racism led to the death of his wife.
In 2016, Kira Dixon Johnson — a Black woman — died shortly after giving birth to their second son. After stating that Dixon Johnson bled to death, Johnson found evidence of differences in treatment in women of color compared to white women. The discoveries came during a deposition in his wrongful death lawsuit.
In a news conference outside of the hospital, Johnson stated, “There’s no doubt in my mind that my wife would be here today and be here Sunday celebrating Mother’s Day with her boys if she was a Caucasian woman.” He added, “The reality is that on April 12, 2016, when we walked into Cedars-Sinai hospital for what we expected to be the happiest day of our lives, the greatest risk factor that Kira Dixon Johnson faced was racism.”
When speaking of Dixon Johnson’s delivery, Attorney Nicholas Rowley said, “This is sloppy. It was butchery.”
Dixon Johnson’s cesarean section lasted for 17 minutes. She died 12 hours later.
Rowley continued, “It shocked everybody that we deposed, all the health care providers, even the head of [obstetrics] here, the head of labor and delivery, looked at it and said ‘No, I’ve never seen one done that fast.’”
Johnson’s civil rights lawsuit revealed that although his wife showed signs of internal bleeding and he repeatedly asked for assistance, Dixon Johnson spent hours suffering in pain without the option of being readmitted to the operating room.
The lawsuit even states that a nurse blatantly told Johnson that his wife wasn’t a priority.
Rowley said that after Dixon Johnson’s death, it was discovered that she hadn’t been sutured properly.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center — who is fighting the malpractice suit — released a statement saying, “We are actively working to eradicate unconscious bias in health care and advance equity in health care more broadly. We commend Mr. Johnson for the attention he has brought to the important issue of racial disparities in maternal outcomes.”
Since his wife’s death, Johnson has been advocating for reducing maternal mortality in Black women. Johnson has testified before Congress and at the state Capitol in Sacramento in favor of bills geared towards malpractice.
In a previous trial associated with the case, multiple employees testified that “structural racism” does exist within the hospital.
Next week the case will go to trial in Los Angeles Superior Court.