Kyira “Kira” Johnson’s husband, Charles Johnson IV.
A California woman died six years ago after giving birth to her baby boy in one of the top hospitals in the nation.
Her family says a botched cesarean section led to their loved one slowly ble’eding to de’ath before dying on an operating table 12 hours after the delivery.
Kyira “Kira” Johnson’s husband, Charles Johnson IV, is reaching the culmination of his years-long pursuit of a wrongful-d’eath lawsuit against Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Last week he and his attorneys announced the filing of a separate civil rights lawsuit against Cedars-Sinai, one that claims the hospital has a culture of systemic bias against Bl’ack patients that contributed to the 39-year-old dying after what was supposed to be a routine C-section in 2016.
Lawsuit documents obtained by Atlanta Black Star state the woman “was dependent on the defendants for the lifesaving medical treatment that she needed,” and further allege there is a culture of ra’cism at the institution that can be proven by testimony and statistics.
The claim also alleges Johnson was “denied full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, and services because of her race/color as a B’lac’k woman.”
On Wednesday, May 4, Charles Johnson — who is the son of TV judge Glenda Hatchett — and attorney Nicholas Rowley held a news conference on a sidewalk in front of Cedars-Sinai and spoke about Kyira Johnson, and how they say her d’eath could have been prevented if staff at the hospital had acknowledged her humanity.
The new lawsuit grew out of findings Johnson’s lawyers obtained as they pursued the malpractice case they first filed in 2017. On April 12, 2016, then-pregnant Johnson was scheduled for a C-section to give birth to her son Langston.
This would have been her second cesarean birth, as she had one with her first son, Charles V. Her family, including her husband, wished her well as medics whisked her into an operating room. Video captured her last kiss with her son before doctors started the procedure.
The legal complaint describes the C-section as rushed and done sloppily. “The surgery was done recklessly,” the claim states. “The time, start to finish, was a mere 17 minutes.” According to Cleveland Clinic, a typical c-section on average can take 45 minutes.
The mother’s bladder had been lacerated during the C-section. She began complaining of pain and growing progressively weaker.
Johnson described to CNN in February 2020 how his fears about his wife’s deteriorating condition were handled by the Cedars-Sinai staff that day.
“I can see the Foley catheter [which drains ur’ine from the bladder] coming from Kira’s bedside turn pink with blo’od,” Johnson said.
“I just held her by her hand and said, ‘Please look, my wife isn’t doing well.’ This woman looked me directly in my eye and said, ‘Sir, your wife is not a priority right now.’ It wasn’t until 12.30 a.m. the next morning that they finally took the decision to take Kira back to surgery,” he added.
When she at last was taken to emergency surgery, doctors found more than three liters of b’l’ood pooled in her ab’domen, Johnson says. The average adult body has less than five liters of b’lo’od. Kyira Johnson d’ied on the operating table.
Six years later, Charles Johnson says he believes rac’ism played a part in her death. He held a news conference about his case with one of his attorneys, Nicholas Rowley of Trial Lawyers for Justice, and other community advocates in front of Cedars-Sinai on May 4.
The widower told reporters gathered to hear him outside the hospital, “I trusted this place with the thing in my life that was most precious.”
“Because of the things we have learned through this incredibly painful process,” he said. “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.”
The wrongful death case against Cedars-Sinai is set to go to trial on May 11 in Los Angeles Superior Court.