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10th Nov 2023

Take Care of Maya family awarded $211 million damages as verdict reached in trial

Nina McLaughlin

The family of Maya Kowalski has been awarded $211 million in damages after the jury reached its verdict.

Earlier this year, Netflix released a documentary titled Take Care of Maya that left viewers heartbroken.

The film tells the story of how Maya was diagnosed with a rare condition called complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) when she was just 10 years old.

She was admitted to John Hopkins Children’s Hospital in 2016 for debilitating pain in her stomach, but the hospital’s staff said that her symptoms were not real and concluded that her mum, Beata, had made up the illness.

The staff reported Beata to the Department of Children and Families after she had asked for her daughter to be treated with ketamine, because the drug had helped her in the past.

Her parents were accused of medical abuse and Maya was taken away from them, and made an involuntary medical ward of the state.

Beata faced accusations of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, which is a form of child abuse where parents or carers make up or create symptoms of sickness in their child.

The Netflix documentary chronicles this story, which tragically ended with Beata taking her own life after being separated from her daughter for 87 days.

An email discovered after her passing read: “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.”

Following the tragedy, the Kowalski family brought about a lawsuit against the hospital, and claimed that they had unlawfully separated Beata from Maya.

Yesterday (November 9), the hospital was found liable for claims which include the wrongful death of Beata, false imprisonment, battery, and causing emotional distress on Maya and Beata.

Now aged 17, Maya burst into tears after the verdict was announced.

Per Court TV, the judge ordered the hospital to pay $200m in initial damages, with $50m on top of that.

Greg Anderson, the Kolawski family’s lawyer, said that the hospital ’caused [Beata], in the end, to lose completely and utterly her ability to control her maternal instinct, and the fact outweighed the survival instinct.’

Ethan Shapiro, who represented the hospital, 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.”

John Hopkins Children’s Hospital is expected to appeal the decision, with their attorneys accusing the court of ‘clear and prejudicial errors’.