Florida Jury Delivers $261 Million Verdict Against Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital

A Florida jury awarded a substantial $261 million verdict to Maya Kowalski, the young girl featured in the Netflix documentary “Take Care of Maya.” This verdict comes after the jury found Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital responsible for a series of mistreatments that tragically led to her mother’s suicide.

The Venice, Florida jury, after extensive deliberations, issued their verdict on November 9, comprising $211 million in compensatory damages and an additional $50 million in punitive damages. The punitive damages were split equally between two claims: $25 million for false imprisonment and another $25 million for battery related to unauthorized photographs of Maya.

The jury’s decision came after nearly three days of careful consideration, finding the hospital culpable on multiple counts including false imprisonment, battery, medical malpractice, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and fraudulent billing.

Central to the battery claims was the conduct of Catherine Bedy, a hospital social worker. Bedy was accused of taking unauthorized photos of Maya during sensitive moments, including a dependency court hearing and a particularly distressing moment when Maya was informed she couldn’t go home for Christmas.

The Kowalski family’s accusations against the hospital included the false imprisonment of Maya during the initial phase of her hospital stay and her confinement in a video surveillance room for two days. The family argued that these actions justified the punitive damages awarded.

This verdict culminates a nine-week trial scrutinizing the hospital staff’s treatment of Maya during her three-month stay in late 2016. The case gained national attention due to its tragic circumstances and the subsequent Netflix documentary.

The situation escalated when Maya, then 10 years old, was admitted to the All Children’s emergency room on October 7, 2016, with severe stomach pain. Her mother, Beata Kowalski’s insistence on high doses of ketamine for Maya’s treatment raised concerns of medical child abuse, leading to intervention by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF). This intervention resulted in Maya being removed from her parents’ custody, a development that preceded Beata Kowalski’s tragic suicide three months later.

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has expressed intentions to appeal the verdict.

The case, filed as Kowalski v. Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Inc. et al., case number 2018-CA-005321, was heard in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida and represents a significant moment in medical and legal circles.