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Netflix Doc Take Care Of Maya’s Mega-Millions Lawsuit Reaches Verdict, With Jury Siding Against John Hopkins

One of Netflix’s newest releases was the documentary Take Care of Maya, which premiered on the 2023 movie schedule at the Tribeca Film Festival. In this heartbreaking documentary, the Kowalski Family was forever changed when 11-year-old Maya was taken to the ER at John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital over severe stomach pain. When the hospital separated Maya from her family with accusations that her parents were a danger to her, her mother took her own life. In the mega-million lawsuit against the hospital, a verdict was reached with a jury siding against John Hopkins.

In September, according to The Independent, the Kowalski Family sued John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital for $55 million in compensatory damages and $165 million in punitive damages. According to Fox 13 News, the jury reached a verdict siding against the hospital, and it awarded the family $211,451,174 as well as an additional $50,000,000 in punitive damages for false imprisonment and false imprisonment with battery. This would total more than $261 million. 

The hospital was found liable for seven claims held against them including medical negligence. The Kowalski Family was in tears as they heard the verdict, and Maya Kowalski told Fox 13 News that the meaning behind this trial was more than monetary compensation:

To me, it was about the answer – knowing that my mom was right. I want people to know that she wasn’t harming me at all. I mean, for the first time, I feel like I got justice.

The documentary Take Care of Maya, which waspart of the Netflix movie schedule, goes through Maya Kowalski’s experience. Maya Kowalski was diagnosed with advanced complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) that causes severe pain at the slightest touch. In order to achieve minimal symptoms, this required large doses of ketamine which proved to be effective. 

In October 2016, Maya relapsed and was sent to John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital for agonizing stomach pain. Because the hospital wasn’t familiar with CRPS or the ketamine treatment she was on, Maya’s mother Beata ordered the hospital to give her a large dose of Ketamine since it helped her in the past. These requests made the hospital question the validity of Maya’s condition. They accused Beata of Munchausen syndrome by proxy believing she was making her daughter sick. The doctors reported the incident to Child Protective Services and Maya was taken to state custody.

Fox 13 News reported that during Maya Kowalski’s three-month stay in state custody at the hospital, she was allegedly isolated in a hospital room. Kowalski said that for 48 hours under unknown surveillance, doctors put a commode far away from the bed to see if she could physically walk towards it to use the bathroom. When she claimed the nurses refused to help her use it, she would defecate on herself. The medical staff was apparently not taking her complaints seriously. 

After Beata Kowalski was under pending investigation by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, she wasn’t allowed to contact her daughter or even give her a hug, triggering Maya’s mother to go into a state of depression. In January 2017, Beata Kowalski died by suicide, and according to People she explained in an email discovered after her death that she could “no longer take the pain being away from Maya and being treated like a criminal.” She also wrote that she couldn’t watch her “daughter suffer in pain and keep getting worse.” 

According to NBC News, Maya was released back to her family a week later and a lawsuit was put in place against the hospital. This is what the plaintiff’s attorney Greg Anderson told the jurors:

Maya Kowalski was falsely imprisoned and battered. She was denied communication with her family. She was denied communication with the outside. She was told that her mother was crazy. She was told by social workers, one in particular, that she would be her mother. Maya was repeatedly battered by nurses and social workers trying to prove that she did not have CRPS. They [defendants] continued to accuse the Kowalskis, Jack and Beata, of being child abusers even after the evidence … was overwhelming that she [Maya] had CRPS.

After lawyers on both sides presented their closing arguments and two days of deliberation, a verdict was reached and the Kowalski Family was awarded more than $261 million. If you’d like to know more details surrounding the case of Maya Kowalski, you can watch the documentary film Take Care of Maya with a Netflix subscription.

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