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Take Care of Maya Trial: Be mindful of Maya

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Florida jury recently awarded $261 Million to an abusive family accused of abusing their daughter and denied access to her during months of treatment at a hospital. Their story was documented in Netflix documentary.

Court documents released Thursday indicate that jurors in Florida’s 12th Judicial Circuit, Sarasota County ruled against Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital of St Petersburg and awarded $211 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages due to false imprisonment, battery, medical negligence and other allegations against it.

take care of maya
take care of maya

Damages were awarded for infliction of emotional distress on Maya Kowalski and Beata Kowalski (who committed suicide in 2017), with Maya’s father Jack Kowalski named as plaintiff representing both Maya and Beata Kowalski’s estate in court documents.

“For the first time,” Maya Kowalski, now 17, stated to reporters outside of the courtroom following her mother’s decision, she felt vindicated.

Mr. Kowalski explained that this case centered around parental decision-making regarding their child’s care. Parents “have rights and should make these decisions,” according to him.

Howard Hunter, All Children’s attorney stated in a statement after the verdict that they will appeal the decision and follow protocol when suspecting child abuse.

“We remain dedicated to upholding the vitally important obligation of mandatory reporters to report suspected child abuse and protect those most at risk,” stated Mr. Gowens.

Last year, The Cut reported on the Kowalskis and their story became the subject of Netflix documentary “Take Care of Maya.” This film detailed Maya’s stay at an Atlanta hospital from October 2016 until January 2017 while touching upon her rare pain syndrome as well as mandates that require hospitals to report suspected abuse cases.

Maya was 10 years old in 2016 when she was admitted to All Children’s Hospital for treatment for complex regional pain syndrome. According to the family’s claim, Maya underwent three weeks of care at that facility for complex regional pain syndrome.

On Oct. 7, 2016, Maya was taken to an emergency room due to her extreme pain, according to the complaint. There she was evaluated by a child-welfare agency doctor with expertise in child abuse detection; upon this assessment Maya remained hospitalized under state order for approximately three months despite attempts from family to release her, according to the complaint.

As part of her medical orders at this facility, medical orders included “isolating” her from family visits and restricting contact. Furthermore, it alleged that she was touched against her will or without parental permission and placed under video surveillance; her symptoms worsened significantly as lesions reappeared, legs atrophied and she became wheelchair-bound.

Ethen Shapiro, another lawyer representing All Children’s, stated in a telephone interview on Friday that All Children’s had been following state orders restricting visitation since Oct 14, 2016, when Florida Dependency Court made its ruling that Maya must be placed into shelter care.

“They determined there was reasonable suspicion of medical child abuse,” said Mr. Jones, adding that All Children’s Hospital did not have the authority to decide where she could be sent after that determination had been made. All Children’s Hospital is not hindering visitation rights – that lies entirely with All Children’s Hospital alone.”

Jennifer Anderson, attorney for the Kowalskis, explained that Maya’s parents had been following orders from a physician who previously treated her pain syndrome, while Ms. Kowalski experienced “Acute Stress Reaction and Grief Reaction” following being accused of child abuse and having her daughter taken from her custody.

take care of maya family
take care of maya family

“[T]he actions of Beata and her agents drove both parents, particularly Beata who was accused of abusing her daughter, inexorably toward extreme human behaviors,” according to the complaint.

Mr. Kowalski was eventually allowed visits.

At a Dependency Court hearing on Jan. 6, 2017, Beata Kowalski saw her daughter Maya for the first time since her admission to All Children’s Hospital three months earlier, according to Beata’s attorney. Maya was in wheelchair use and worse shape than when she initially entered hospital care, according to Beata’s lawyer.

Shortly thereafter, Kowalski committed suicide, according to her complaint.

On Jan. 13 the court issued an order releasing Maya Kowalski from hospital care into her father’s custody.

Ms. Anderson stated on Friday that the jury’s verdict represented vindication for her family and all that they endured during this ordeal.

Mr. Shapiro noted he anticipated beginning the appeal process at either the end of 2019 or in early 2024 and indicated the jury award wouldn’t be paid out until this process has concluded.

If you are contemplating suicide, call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.

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