VENICE, Fla. – A jury has ruled that Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg falsely imprisoned and battered a 10-year-old girl, Maya Kowalski, and contributed to her mother’s suicide. The jury awarded damages of over $261 million to the Kowalski family in a major legal defeat for the hospital.
The jury found that the hospital engaged in “extreme and outrageous” conduct in its treatment of Maya and her family after an emergency room visit in October 2016. The family’s ordeal began when doctors at the hospital were skeptical of Maya’s diagnosis of complex regional pain syndrome and reported her mother, Beata Kowalski, for suspected medical child abuse. As a result, Maya was removed from her family and placed under the hospital’s care for three months. Beata Kowalski took her own life during this time.
The jury determined that the hospital’s conduct contributed to Beata Kowalski’s death and that they falsely imprisoned Maya by preventing the family from leaving with their child. Damages were awarded for the hospital’s decision to place Maya in a room with video surveillance, strip her down without permission, and photograph her. Additionally, there was an award for the inappropriate conduct of a hospital social worker who kissed and hugged Maya and sat her on her lap.
After a second jury deliberation, punitive damages of $50 million were also awarded to the family for counts of false imprisonment and battery. The jury’s decision came on the third day of deliberation and was met with tears of relief and grief from the Kowalski family.
Maya, now 17, expressed that the verdict brings justice and clears her mother’s name. The case has gained international attention after being made into a documentary on Netflix called “Take Care of Maya,” which was viewed by millions of people.
All Children’s Hospital plans to appeal the verdict, arguing that there were errors and that the family’s attorneys mislead the jury. They maintain that their physicians, nurses, and staff provided lifesaving and compassionate care to Maya.
Throughout the trial, the Kowalski family’s attorneys emphasized the hospital’s failure to properly treat Maya’s pain syndrome, a rare neurological condition. They argued that the hospital’s actions worsened her health and caused lasting trauma to Maya, her brother, and her father.
The trial also revealed a culture of retaliation and dysfunction within All Children’s Hospital. Testimonies from a retired hospital administrator and medical experts supported these claims. The family’s attorney denounced the hospital’s defense as “revisionist history” and accused them of wanting to punish Beata Kowalski for questioning their medical expertise.
In conclusion, a Florida jury has awarded damages exceeding $261 million to the Kowalski family, ruling that Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital falsely imprisoned and battered Maya Kowalski and contributed to her mother’s suicide. The verdict reflects the hospital’s “extreme and outrageous” conduct in its treatment of Maya and her family, and highlights the devastating consequences of their actions. The family hopes that the verdict will bring justice and clear their mother’s name. All Children’s Hospital plans to appeal the decision, maintaining that their care was appropriate and necessary. This case has garnered global attention through a Netflix documentary, shedding light on the problems within the hospital and the importance of protecting vulnerable patients.