Maya Kowalski's family awarded $211 million in damages as verdict reached in trial
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The family from the Take Care of Maya documentary have been awarded $211 million (£172.8 million) in damages as the jury reached its verdict.
The young girl was check into John Hopkins Children’s Hospital in Florida in 2016 for debilitating stomach pain.
But medical staff there concluded her symptoms were not real and reported her mum, Beata, to the Department of Children and Families.
Beata had requested Maya be treated with doses of ketamine, citing that the drug had helped in the past.
Accused of medical abuse, the parents were separated from their daughter, and she was made an involuntary medical ward of the state.
Beata was accused of Munchausen syndrome by proxy - a rare form of child abuse when a parent or carer exaggerates or deliberately causes symptoms of illness in a child.
In the Netflix doc, we see the ordeal chronicled, including the reveal of Maya’s mother taking her own life.
She died in January 2017 after 87 days of being restricted from seeing her daughter.
In an email discovered afterwards, Beata wrote: “I’m sorry but I no longer can take the pain being away from Maya and being treated like a criminal. I cannot watch my daughter suffer in pain and keep getting worse.”
The Kowalski family’s lawsuit against John Hopkin’s Children’s Hospital alleged the hospital had wrongfully committed Maya and should not have separated her from Beata.
Yesterday (9 November), the hospital was found liable on multiple claims, including the wrongful death of Beata, false imprisonment, battery, and inflicting emotional distress on Maya and her mother.
Both Maya, now 17, and her brother burst into tears as the verdict was read out in the courtroom.
According to Court TV, the judge ordered the hospital to pay a total of $50m on top of the initial damages of more than $200m.
The family’s attorney, Greg Anderson, alleged the hospital’s actions ‘caused [Beata], in the end, to lose completely and utterly her ability to control her maternal instinct, and the fact outweighed the survival instinct.’
The hospital’s lawyer, Ethen Shapiro, claimed in his closing statement that it had attempted to ensure a better future for Maya.
He said: “The reason why All Children’s did what it did, the reason why All Children’s tried to comfort Maya, the reason why All Children’s tried to get her on a safe medical path is because the loving and caring providers at my clients’ hospital believed in a better future for her if they could get her off the unnecessary drugs given at dangerous levels.”
The hospital is expected to appeal the verdict and the attorneys for the hospital have accused the court of ‘clear and prejudicial errors’.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, please don’t suffer alone. Call Samaritans for free on their anonymous 24-hour phone line on 116 123.