VENICE, FL -- A Sarasota County jury has so far imposed a huge verdict on a St. Petersburg hospital for their care of a Venice girl in 2016 and 2017.
The Venice jury awarded more than $200 million to the Kowalski family. It found Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital liable for false imprisonment, battery by a social worker, and the suicide of Maya's mother. More damages could be awarded in a punitive phase.
Maya Kowalski was hospitalized in late 2016 when she complained of stomach pains that her parents believed might be connected to chronic regional pain syndrome. Beata Kowalski, a registered nurse, was treating her with ketamine on the recommendation of doctors in Mexico. The JHACH team reported the situation to the Department of Children and Families, believing that Kowalski's treatment was making her daughter sick. Beata Kowalski committed suicide in early 2017, 87 days after her daughter was taken into custody. Jack Kowalski, her widowed husband, sued the next year on behalf of himself, their children Maya and Kyle, and the estate of Beata Kowalski.
The hospital has maintained that it complied with Florida law in reporting the situation to DCF and complied with orders from the state and the courts.
The case was covered in the Netflix documentary, "Take Care of Maya."
Here's a statement from Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital through a spokesperson:
“We thank the jury for their time and attention in this matter and intend to pursue an appeal. We remain confident that the staff of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital provided compassionate, lifesaving, and lawful care to this patient. As Florida’s leading children’s hospital, it is a privilege to serve the children and families in our community.”
Here's a statement from the hospital's counsel, Howard Hunter of Hill Ward Henderson:
"We thank the jury for their time and attention during this trial and 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. The evidence clearly showed that Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital followed Florida’s mandatory reporting law in reporting suspected child abuse and, when those suspicions were confirmed by the district court, fully complied with Department of Children and Families (DCF) and court orders. We are determined to defend the vitally important obligation of mandatory reporters to report suspected child abuse and protect the smallest and most vulnerable among us. The facts and the law remain on our side, and we will continue to defend the lifesaving and compassionate care provided to Maya Kowalski by the physicians, nurses and staff of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the responsibility of all mandatory reporters in Florida to speak up if they suspect child abuse.”