December 7, 2023

A jury in Florida ordered a hospital to pay $261 million in damages to a household after the dad and mom had been accused of abusing their daughter and barred from seeing her throughout months of remedy. Their story was chronicled within the Netflix documentary “Take Care of Maya.”

Jurors in Florida’s twelfth Judicial Circuit in Sarasota County discovered towards Johns Hopkins All Kids’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, courtroom paperwork issued Thursday present, ordering $211 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages for false imprisonment, battery, medical negligence and different prices.

Damages had been awarded for infliction of emotional misery on the daughter in query, Maya Kowalski, and her mom, Beata Kowalski, who died by suicide in 2017. Maya’s father, Jack Kowalski, was named as a plaintiff within the case representing Maya and his spouse’s property, courtroom paperwork confirmed.

“For the primary time, I really feel like I obtained justice,” Maya Kowalski, now 17, stated in a statement to reporters outside of the courtroom after the choice.

Mr. Kowalski stated the case was about parental decision-making within the care of their youngsters. “Mother and father have rights they usually make the choice,” he stated.

Howard Hunter, a lawyer for All Kids’s, stated that the hospital would enchantment the choice. In a press release after the decision, he stated the hospital had adopted its protocol for when it suspects youngster abuse.

“We’re decided to defend the vitally vital obligation of necessary reporters to report suspected youngster abuse and shield the smallest and most susceptible amongst us,” he stated.

The story of the Kowalskis was reported in The Cut last year and was the subject of the Netflix documentary “Take Care of Maya.” The movie examined Maya’s keep within the hospital from Oct. 7, 2016, via Jan. 13, 2017, concerning her uncommon ache syndrome and a system that mandates hospitals to report suspected abuse.

Based on the household’s grievance, Maya was 10 years outdated in 2016 when she was handled at All Kids’s Hospital for advanced regional ache syndrome.

On Oct. 7, 2016, she was rushed to the emergency room due to her excessive ache, it stated. Maya was then evaluated by a child-welfare company physician who specialised in detecting youngster abuse. Subsequently, beneath an order issued by the state, she remained within the hospital for about three months, regardless of the household’s makes an attempt to get her out, the grievance stated.

Whereas she was there, medical orders included “isolating” her and limiting household visits, the grievance stated. It stated she was touched towards her will or with out parental consent and put beneath video surveillance; her “signs worsened: her lesions reappeared, her legs atrophied, she regressed and have become wheelchair-bound.”

In a phone interview on Friday, Ethen Shapiro, one other lawyer representing the hospital, stated that All Kids’s had been finishing up the state’s orders in limiting visitation. The Florida Dependency Court docket, which handles issues of kid abuse and neglect, restricted visitation after deciding on Oct. 14, 2016, that Maya must be sheltered.

“They made a dedication that there was an affordable suspicion of medical youngster abuse,” he stated, including that the hospital had no discretion about the place it may ship her after that. “It’s not All Kids’s Hospital that’s obstructing visitation.”

An lawyer for the Kowalskis, Jennifer Anderson, stated that Maya’s dad and mom had been following orders from a health care provider who had beforehand handled her ache syndrome, and the grievance stated that Ms. Kowalski had skilled “Acute Stress Response and Grief response” after being accused of kid abuse and having her daughter taken away.

“Briefly, the actions of the Defendants and their brokers drove each dad and mom, however particularly Beata as she was additionally accused of abusing her beloved daughter, inexorably in the direction of probably the most excessive of human habits,” the grievance learn.

Mr. Kowalski was finally allowed to have visitations.

In a Dependency Court docket listening to on Jan. 6, 2017, Beata Kowalski noticed her daughter in particular person for the primary time since Maya was admitted to All Kids’s Hospital, an lawyer for the Kowalskis stated. Maya was utilizing a wheelchair “and in worse form” than when she entered the hospital three months earlier than.

Lower than 48 hours later, Ms. Kowalski took her personal life, the grievance stated.

The courtroom entered an order on Jan. 13 discharging Maya Kowalski from the hospital to her father’s custody.

Ms. Anderson stated on Friday that the jury’s resolution was “vindication for the household and what they went via.”

Mr. Shapiro stated he anticipated the enchantment course of to begin across the finish of the yr or early 2024. He stated the jury award wouldn’t be paid till the enchantment course of is over.

If you’re having ideas of suicide, name or textual content 988 to achieve the 988 Suicide and Disaster Lifeline or go to for a listing of extra sources.

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