A Florida jury has found John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital guilty of false imprisonment in the case of Netflix teen Maya Kowalski, ruling that Maya’s false confinement by the hospital led to her mother’s suicide.
In a trial that lasted two months, jurors in Florida took only a little over 16 hours to award $238 million in damages to Maya, due to the malfunctioning hospital.
The six-panel jury held John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital responsible for the death of Beata Kowalski, Maya’s mother, who committed suicide after the hospital and state removed Maya from her family’s care. They accused her parents of faking symptoms of her rare condition, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).
Maya, who is now 17, was just 10 years old when she was removed from her parents’ care.
During her hospital stay, Beata was prohibited from visiting Maya. Beata’s husband, Jack Kowalski, argued that the hospital’s actions led to Beata falling into depression, ultimately resulting in her hanging herself in the family garage in 2017.
JHAC denied the allegations.
Maya’s family story was featured on Netflix in a documentary titled “Taking Care of Maya,” and that is precisely what JHAC will be doing after this verdict, which sent a strong message to other hospitals.
Maya Kowalski and her family filed the $220 million lawsuit in October 2018.
How did Maya Kowalski case against John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital start?
In 2016, a judge ordered that Maya be placed in a medical facility under state custody while allegations of child abuse against her parents were being investigated.
At the time, hospital staff believed that Beata had been suffering from Munchausen-by-proxy, or medical child abuse.
Munchausen-by-proxy is a mental illness and a form of child abuse in which the caregiver of a child, most often a mother, either fabricates fake symptoms or induces real symptoms to make it appear as though the child is ill.
The Kowalski family claimed that the hospital medically kidnapped Maya and cited instances of battery, including forcibly undressing her to take pictures of lesions and engaging in physical affection without the permission of her parents while she was in their care.
The hospital was accused of false imprisonment, battery, medical negligence, fraudulent billing, survivor claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress (Estate of Beata Kowalski), wrongful death claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress causing death, and Maya’s claim for infliction of emotional distress.
After the jury instructions were read, one juror was dismissed for medical reasons following a defense request to have the juror reassigned as an alternate, which was denied.
How did Maya Kowalski admitted to John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital?
In 2016, Maya arrived at JHAC after experiencing a flare-up of her CRPS, a disease diagnosed by a doctor who was not affiliated with the Florida institute. On the stand, Maya told jurors that her complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) left her in excruciating pain, often screaming and unable to walk at times.
She said she had received ketamine to treat the pain and even underwent a ketamine-induced coma in Mexico after the diagnosis and before her arrival at JHACH.
During that time, she said that ketamine was an effective treatment for her, and her conditions had improved until 2016 when she experienced a flare-up and went to JHAC.
Maya was diagnosed with CRPS at the age of 9. JHAC accused Beata of exhibiting signs of Munchausen by proxy and suggested that Maya’s perceived CRPS symptoms were being driven by her mother.
The court is proceeding to the next phase, which involves punitive damages.
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