In a significant legal development, Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital in Florida has been held liable for multiple claims, including the wrongful death of Beata Kowalski and inflicting emotional distress on her and her daughter, Maya. The Kowalski family was awarded a staggering $211 million in damages.
The court’s decision, live-streamed by CourtTV and reported by WFTS, WTSP, and The Tampa Bay Times, comes in the aftermath of the Netflix documentary “Take Care of Maya,” which chronicles the tragic story of Beata and her daughter.
Maya, diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) as a child, was admitted to Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital in 2016 for severe stomach pain. The hospital staff reported Beata to the Department of Children and Families when she requested ketamine treatment for Maya, alleging Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Although a subsequent psychological evaluation ruled out the mental illness, Beata was separated from her family for over three months.
Tragically, Beata, at the age of 43, took her own life in January 2017. In a heartbreaking email discovered posthumously, she expressed her inability to endure the pain of being away from Maya and being treated like a criminal.
The Kowalski family’s attorney, Greg Anderson, argued that the hospital’s actions stripped Beata of her maternal instinct, leading to the tragic outcome.
After the verdict, Maya, now 17, visibly emotional, witnessed the culmination of a legal battle that sought justice for her family’s ordeal.
In response to the verdict, Howard Hunter, the defense counsel representing Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, emphasized the hospital’s adherence to Florida’s mandatory reporting law regarding suspected child abuse. The statement underscored the hospital’s commitment to defending the obligation of mandatory reporters to report child abuse, maintaining that their actions were in line with the law.
The case sheds light on the delicate balance between ensuring the safety of children and the potential consequences of misjudgments in reporting suspected abuse. The enormous damages awarded to the Kowalski family underscore the severity of the situation and the responsibility institutions bear in safeguarding vulnerable individuals.