SARASOTA, Fla. – Attorneys representing Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital are pushing for a new trial in the ‘Take Care of Maya’ case, citing juror bias and misconduct as grounds for their demand.
In November, the Kowalski family was awarded over $260 million in damages after a jury found Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital (JHAC) guilty of falsely imprisoning Maya, fraudulently billing her family, causing significant emotional distress, and subjecting her to abuse from social worker Catherine Bedy and medical negligence from Dr. Sally Smith.
Following the verdict, JHAC’s legal team has filed various motions alleging juror misconduct, with their most recent motion accusing Juror No. 1 of displaying prejudice against Johns Hopkins and Dr. Smith by using Nazi symbolism in his notes. The defense claims that the juror wrote Smith’s name with sharply shaped S’s resembling those used by the Nazi SS.
The Kowalski family’s attorneys have vehemently denied the accusations, calling them “inflammatory” and a desperate attempt by JHAC to tarnish the juror’s reputation. Attorney Tom Elligett argued that the stylized S’s were commonly used and did not necessarily equate to a Nazi symbol. In their response, the defense pointed out several instances where the juror did not use the symbol when spelling Smith’s name.
The defense’s earlier motion also alleged that Juror No. 1 shared trial information with his wife, who then posted her opinions on social media, breaching the jury’s confidentiality. In response, JHAC’s attorneys claimed that the juror’s wife provided him with undisclosed information during the trial, thus influencing the jury’s decision.
During the recent hearing, JHAC’s attorney, Ethen Shapiro, highlighted the wife’s real-time social media posts about the trial, particularly regarding Detective Stephanie Graham’s testimony. However, the Kowalski family’s attorney countered that the trial was publicly streamed, allowing anyone to watch it in real-time.
After hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Hunter Carroll announced that he would not make a ruling before the Christmas holiday but would inform the lawyers next week if a juror interview would be conducted.
The push for a new trial by JHAC’s legal team is based on allegations of juror bias and misconduct, specifically the use of Nazi symbolism in the juror’s notes and the juror’s wife sharing trial information on social media. The Kowalski family’s attorneys strongly deny the accusations, arguing that they are baseless and an attempt to discredit the juror. Judge Carroll is expected to make a decision on the motion in the coming weeks.