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Maya Kowalski’s Family Awarded $211 Million in Lawsuit Against Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital

The family of Maya Kowalski, the 17-year-old featured in Netflix’s “Take Care of Maya,” has been awarded over $200 million in a lawsuit against Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. The lawsuit alleged botched care and forced isolation of the girl, which led her mother to commit suicide.

The Netflix documentary focuses on Ms. Kowalski and her family’s battle to have her released after the hospital obtained a state order mandating her removal from their custody.

Ms. Kowalski’s mother, Beata Kowalski, ultimately took her own life after being prevented from seeing her daughter for months.

A jury in Sarasota County, Florida, found the hospital liable for false imprisonment, battery, and intentionally inflicting emotional distress on Ms. Kowalski. They also held the hospital liable for false billing against her father and for inflicting emotional distress on and the wrongful death of her mother. The family was awarded $211 million in damages, with further punitive damages yet to be assessed against the hospital for false imprisonment and battery.

Ms. Kowalski was admitted to the hospital in 2016 at the age of 10 for symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome. Hospital staff suspected her mother of exaggerating the symptoms and demanding high doses of ketamine and sedatives as part of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a condition in which a caregiver seeks attention by seeking medical help for exaggerated or made-up symptoms of a child.

The hospital reported Ms. Kowalski to the state of Florida, claiming it was in adherence to mandatory reporting guidelines, and then complied with a Florida state order to remove Ms. Kowalski from parental care and keep her at the hospital without contact from her family for three months.

Dr. Pradeep Chopra, who provided testimony in the case, argued that the hospital staff had misdiagnosed Ms. Kowalski’s pain condition as a psychological issue, leading to improper treatment. While the family successfully argued that the hospital’s confinement order led to the suicide, the hospital plans to appeal, claiming that its actions were consistent with its legal responsibility as a mandatory reporter.

Attorney Howard Hunter, representing the hospital, stated that they “intend to pursue an appeal based on clear and prejudicial errors throughout the trial and deliberate conduct by plaintiff’s counsel that misled the jury.” Greg Anderson, the lead counsel for the family, criticized the hospital’s defense as “revisionist history.”

“What was the purpose of all this other than arrogance and the belief they could get away with it?” Mr. Anderson said.

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