- Attorneys made their closing statements in the trial of Netflix teen Maya Kowalski who is facing off a Florida Hospital for $220 million in damages
- The legal suit claims that Johns Hopkins All Children’s hospital callously dismissed Maya’s debilitating condition and falsely claimed her mom made it up
- Maya’s mom, Beata, ultimately took her own life. The hospital has vehemently denied allegations set against them saying they were justified in their report
Maya Kowalski’s lawyers today blasted the ‘dysfunctional’ children’s hospital which her family says kept her ‘imprisoned’ as a child when she suffered from chronic pain.
The teen’s family is suing Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St Petersburg Florida alleging that accusations of child abuse against Maya’s mother Beata led her to take her own life in 2017.
Maya, 17, was just 10 years old when she was removed by the state after doctors at the hospital accused her parents, Jack and Beata Kowalski, of faking symptoms for her rare pain condition.
During her three-month hospital stay, Beata was forbidden from seeing her. The stricken mom fell into a depression and ultimately ended up committing suicide. The heartbreaking tragedy was detailed in the Netflix documentary Taking Care of Maya.
Lawyers for both sides presented their closing arguments on Tuesday in the blockbuster $220million lawsuit. The jury of six are now deliberating.
The Kowalski family says the hospital medically kidnapped Maya and pointed to examples of battery including ‘stripping her down’ to a sports bra and shorts to take pictures of lesions being ‘cuddled, kissed and held’ without the permission of her parents while in their care.
Greg Anderson, the family’s attorney, made a fiery rebuttal accusing JHACH of being ‘dysfunctional’ claiming there was no oversight over Maya’s treatment while in their care.
‘This is Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, this is who they really are,’ Anderson said to the court.
‘It’s a place that retaliates against its own employees for bringing things out that are negative and retaliates against anyone, any parent, who decides they want to do something different.
‘This case is about an organization that is so screwed up that it actually thinks it’s a good idea to force parents to accept their way of doing things and if the parents don’t they have to find different ways to punish them.
Anderson claimed that there needs to be a ‘captain of the ship, and there never was.’
‘It was totally dysfunctional the way this hospital operated,’ he said.
‘No one was checking no one was making sure to see how this child was being taken care of, no one was looking to see how their own employees were behaving and it wasn’t just one.’
Ethen Shapiro, an attorney for the hospital, tore to shreds the seven allegations against the medical facility pleading to the jury to listen to facts and not to hand down a verdict based on sympathy.
‘The most unfortunate parts of this case is the caption, Kowalski’s versus All Children’s, we were never against the Kowalski family,’ Shapiro 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 and my client’s hospital believed in a better future for her.
‘If they could get her off the unnecessary drugs given at dangerous levels. Period. End of story.
Shapiro stressed to jurors that if there was any cause for punitive damages to be paid to the Kowalski family to do so, but vehemently denied the allegations against his client.
‘There’s nothing outrageous that the hospital ever did, there’s no reason to be considering punitive damages, your work can end with your deliberations.
‘What we need in this courtroom is closure for everybody.’
According to the complaint from Pinellas County Beata died by suicide because of the turmoil that the hospital created.
‘Defendants imprisoned Maya at [Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg] with no legal justification,’ the lawsuit states.
Throughout the trial the hospital has vehemently denied these allegations and reiterated this defense in closing statements.
‘The evidence that we’ve been able to put on through our defense case has shown that Maya came to us in a horrible condition on a number of dangerous and unnecessary drugs,’ Shapiro, attorney for the hospital said during the trial.
‘We were able to wean her off those drugs and get her to a place where she can be like you see her today, walking in and out of court, going to homecoming and living a more normal teenage life.’
Greg Anderson, the family’s attorney, rebuffed the defense’s narrative that Maya is doing much better.
‘There’s a base level of pain, but when you’re in that much pain at different times it becomes, it’s not as noticeable as a normal person, really,’ Anderson said.
‘You develop a high tolerance for it. CRPS patients always have a little bit of pain, but it does come and go, and this is one of the elusive and frankly frustrating things about the disease.’
Anderson argued that out of the five depositions made by Maya the defense had been picking snippets to portray Maya’s life after hospitalization as ‘normal.’
He pointed out that Maya ‘almost died after one relapse’ and she was sent to Arnold Palmer’s Children’s Hospital in Orlando where she was given a feeding tube because of the significant weight loss she experienced.
‘The fact that they stood up for their rights to treat their own child with the best knowledge they could, with every bit of information they could, and they made the right choices,’ Anderson said.
‘So, the things that happened to them at Johns Hopkins are beyond belief, absolutely beyond belief, but we’ve proved them over and over again.’
Maya was removed from her parents’ care after hospital staff became suspicious of the dosage of ketamine her mother insisted on treating her with for the excruciating chronic pain.
Florida‘s Department of Children and Families and a state judge supported hospital staff’s suspicions of ‘child medical abuse’ and placed Maya under Florida’s Department of Children and Families’ custody and she was housed at the center.
AndersonGlenn LLP, who launched the lawsuit on behalf of the Kowalski family, confirmed the family is seeking $55 million in compensatory and $165 million in punitive damages.
The hospital’s defense centered on staff as mandatory reporters who are required by state law to call the abuse hotline if they have ‘reasonable cause.’
Shapiro previously stated that the decision to remove Maya was made by the child welfare system rather than the medical facility.
The hospital released a statement to DailyMail.com which read: ‘Our priority at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital is always the safety and privacy of our patients and their families.
‘Therefore, we follow strict federal privacy laws that limit the amount of information we can release regarding any particular case.
‘Our first responsibility is always to the child brought to us for care. Our staff are required by law to notify Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) if they suspect abuse or neglect.
‘It is DCF and a judge – not Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital – that investigates the situation and makes the ultimate decision about what course of action is in the best interest of the child.
‘We are determined to prevent any chilling effect on the obligation to report suspected child abuse in order to protect the most vulnerable among us.’
Judge Hunter Carroll has dismissed the jury to deliberate.