The family of Maya Kowalski was awarded over $200 million in damages last month. The case reached extreme popularity after a documentary called “Take Care of Maya” was released on Netflix.
The documentary details the happenings of the case and what led up to the verdict for the Kowalski family. The Florida lawyers for the Kowalski family celebrated after the verdict was revealed.
Here is everything you need to know about the Kowalski case and their landmark win:
Before the Trial
The events that led up to the 2018 civil suit against Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital (JHAC) are disturbing in nature. In 2016, 10 year old Maya was admitted to the St. Petersburg, Fla. JHAC. She was experiencing severe pain from her rare, chronic neurological condition. The condition is referred to as “complex regional pain syndromes” (CRPS), formerly known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy. This condition causes excruciating nerve pain.
May had previously been diagnosed with CRPS before her ER visit in 2016. The staff at JHAC claimed Maya was being abused by her mother, Beata. They suspected the mother suffered from Munchausen syndrome after unapproved ketamine treatments for her daughter’s condition were revealed. Munchausen syndrome is a psychological disorder where a caretaker or parent creates a false illness in the person under their care. The person is not actually ill. Sometimes the parent or caretaker for example will poison the child, usually not enough to kill the child, but enough to get them hospitalized. It's usually a cry for help from the caretaker or parent, and is a sickness.
A court order to remove Maya from her parent’s custody was issued after the hospital staff raised concerns that she was being abused. The terminology they used was Munchausen by proxy.
After Maya was removed from the custody of her parents, her mother experienced distress after being banned from seeing her hospitalized daughter for months. This chain of events ultimately led Maya’s mother Beata to commit suicide at the young age of 43 by hanging herself in the family garage in January 2017.
The Kowalski family filed a lawsuit against JHAC for their role in the suicide of Beata. They alleged the hospital committed a slew of crimes including:
- Medical negligence
- False imprisonment
- Fraudulent billing
- Survivor claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress
- Wrongful death claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress
- And Maya’s claim for infliction of emotional distress
Several hospital staff members claimed they saw Maya being abused. Of course, they all later denied wrongdoing and claimed that they acted in accordance with standard hospital/medical standards and for the safety of the child. However, the jury decided that the hospital was liable for taking Maya away from her parents and keeping her in the hospital.
When Maya Kowalski took the stand to testify against the hospital, she stated she blamed herself for her mother’s suicide. She stated that if her mom had known she was okay, the mother would not have committed suicide to get her out of the hospital.
The hospital representatives maintained their innocence and told Fox News Digital that the hospital’s priority is “always the safety and privacy” of its “patients” and “their families.” They also stated that they followed all federal privacy laws and that they were legally obligated to detect and report signs of abuse.
A six-person jury comprised of four women and two men found the hospital liable for all claims, including intentional infliction of emotional distress resulting in the death of Maya’s mother. The jury first assessed compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are money that is awarded for the injury and additional losses—such as financial and future loss of wages.
The jury next assessed the punitive damages. Punitive damages are compensation with the intent to punish the defendant to deter them from being negligent again. The jury found it necessary to increase the punitive damages to punish the hospital for what they did. The jury apparently deemed it unethical for the hospital staff and medical professionals to remove the rights of the parents and hold Maya in the hospital.
Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital now owes the Kowalski family $261 million for the negligence, wrongdoing, and trouble they endured.
On occasion, we will focus on interesting cases around the country, particularly Florida, where individuals have obtained excellent results in certain types of cases that we handle If you or a loved one are involved in an incident with a medical facility, contact our law firm today. We pride ourselves on our assertive approach to hold the wrongdoers accountable for their negligence. We can help you get the money you deserve to heal. Our team of reputable Florida personal injury attorneys serves Coral Springs, Coconut Creek, Lauderhill, Plantation, Sunrise, Tamarac, and the entire State of Florida.