Children's Health

published : 2023-11-09

The Trial of 'Take Care of Maya': Hospital Defends Medical Abuse Allegations Against Mother's Suicide

A $220 million lawsuit claims Johns Hopkins All Children's caused severe emotional distress to Maya Kowalski and her family

Maya Kowalski sitting in a hospital room, bravely testifying about her experience battling CRPS. (Taken with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV)

Maya Kowalski, the young woman at the center of an alleged child medical abuse case in Florida that drove her mother to suicide and inspired the Netflix documentary 'Take Care of Maya,' testified about her experience.

A Florida jury heard closing arguments in a trial stemming from a $220 million civil lawsuit alleging staff actions at a children's hospital led to the mother's suicide.

Maya and her family claim that during her treatment at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital (JHAC), hospital staff falsely accused her mother, Beata Kowalski, of medical child abuse and failed to take Maya's illness seriously.

A court order removed Maya from her parents' custody after accusations of 'medical abuse,' and Beata tragically took her own life.

Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital exterior with a sign displaying the hospital name. (Taken with Nikon D850)

The defense argues that JHAC staff believed they were acting in Maya's best interest by trying to get her off unnecessary and dangerous drugs given at unsafe levels.

The Kowalski family alleges mistreatment during their time at JHAC, while the hospital argues it has a responsibility to report suspected child abuse.

Maya's rare chronic neurological illness, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), is poorly understood and causes severe pain throughout the body.

The defense claims Maya's symptoms were being driven by her mother, who they accuse of Munchausen by proxy, a psychological disorder where an abuser fabricates or causes an illness in another person.

Close-up of an emotional handwritten letter revealed in the alleged child abuse case that led to Maya's mother's suicide. (Taken with Sony Alpha a7III)

Maya's father believes his wife's emails from Maya's perspective were an attempt to journal her experiences, comparing it to his own family's practice of creating baby books.

The Kowalski family also accuses the hospital of billing thousands of dollars for treatments despite denying Maya's diagnosis.

Ultimately, the trial will determine whether the hospital was justified in its actions or if they caused severe emotional distress and contributed to Beata's tragic decision.