The family in the documentary ‘Take Care of Maya’ was awarded $261 million

A Florida jury has ordered a hospital to pay $261 million in damages to a family after the parents were accused of abusing their daughter and barred them from seeing her during months of treatment. Their story is recorded in the Netflix documentary “Take care of Maya.”

Court documents released Thursday show jurors in Florida’s 12th Judicial District in Sarasota County found against Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Louis. .

The damages were awarded for causing emotional distress to the concerned daughter Maya Kowalski and her mother Beata Kowalski, who died by suicide in 2017. Maya’s father, Jack Kowalski, is listed as the plaintiff in the case representing Maya and his wife. estate, court records show.

“For the first time, I feel like I got justice,” said Maya Kowalski, now 17. statement to reporters outside the courtroom after the decision.

Mr. Kowalski said it was a matter of parental decision-making about the care of their children. “Parents have rights and they decide,” he said.

Howard Hunter, a lawyer for All Children’s, said the hospital will appeal the decision. In a statement after the verdict, he said the hospital followed its own protocol when it suspects child abuse.

“We are determined to defend the vitally important obligation of mandatory journalists to report suspected child abuse and protect the least and most vulnerable among us,” he said.

The story of Kowalski was published in The Cut last year and was the subject of the Netflix documentary “Take Care of Maya”. The film examined Maja’s hospital stay from 7 October 2016 to 13 January 2017, touching on her rare pain syndrome and the system that requires hospitals to report suspected abuse.

According to the family’s complaint, Maja was 10 years old in 2016 when she was treated at the Clinic for All Children for complex regional pain syndrome.

She was rushed to the emergency room on Oct. 7, 2016, due to severe pain, it said. Maya was then evaluated by a child welfare agency doctor who specializes in detecting child abuse. After that, according to a state-issued order, she remained hospitalized for about three months, despite her family’s attempts to get her out, the complaint said.

While there, medical orders included her being “secluded” and restricting family visits, the complaint states. She was said to have been touched against her will or without her parents’ consent and placed under video surveillance; her “symptoms worsened: her lesions reappeared, her legs atrophied, she withdrew and became wheelchair-bound.”

In a phone interview Friday, Ethen Shapiro, another attorney representing the hospital, said All Children’s was following state orders in limiting visits. The Florida Dependency Court, which deals with child abuse and neglect issues, restricted visitation after ruling on October 14, 2016 that Maya should be protected.

“They determined there was a reasonable suspicion of medical child abuse,” he said, adding that the hospital had no discretion over where to send her after that. “It’s not All Children’s Hospital that’s disrupting visits.”

The Kowalskis’ lawyer, Jennifer Anderson, said Maja’s parents followed the orders of the doctor who previously treated her for pain syndrome, and the complaint alleges that Ms. Kowalski suffered an “acute stress and grief reaction” after being accused of child abuse and taking her daughter. .

“In short, the actions of the defendants and their agents pushed both parents, especially Beata, because she was also accused of abusing her beloved daughter, inexorably towards the most extreme human behavior,” the report states.

Mr. Kowalski was eventually allowed to have visitors.

At a dependency hearing on Jan. 6, 2017, Beata Kowalski saw her daughter in person for the first time since Maya was admitted to All Children’s Hospital, the Kowalski family’s attorney said. Maja was using a wheelchair “and in a worse condition” than when she entered the hospital three months ago.

Less than 48 hours later, Ms. Kowalski took her own life, according to the complaint.

On January 13, the court issued an order releasing Maya Kowalski from the hospital under her father’s supervision.

Ms Anderson said on Friday the jury’s decision was “vindication for the family and what they went through”.

Mr. Shapiro said he expects the appeals process to begin at the end of the year or early 2024. He said the jury award will not be paid until the appeals process is complete.

If you are thinking about suicide, call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or go to for a list of additional resources.

Categories USA

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