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An Overview of the “Take Care of Maya” Trial

In June of 2023, Netflix released a documentary entitled “Take Care of Maya”. The documentary chronicled the story of every parents’ worst nightmare. It’s the story of a seemingly healthy child getting sick out of nowhere with a disease that many people have not heard of before. It also tells the story of the fight between parents and a hospital with certain parental rights being taken away. The story developed with the mother of said child taking her own life and a lawsuit attempting to collect compensation for wrongful death as well as overall personal injury that this child and her family claims to have sustained by the hospital. Allow our wrongful death attorneys in San Diego to help you unbox this complex case.

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Who is Maya Kowalski in the “Take Care of Maya” Trial?

Prior to the “Take Care of Maya” trial, Maya Kowalski appeared to be a perfectly healthy and normal child until she started to experience severe pain. Her parents, Beata and Jack, desperate to help their child, took her to a number of specialists and ultimately she was diagnosed with a condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, also known as CRPS. Although her family was able to control flair ups of CRPS for the most part, during a particularly bad flair up, her family took her to All Children’s Hospital. Maya’s life took a harrowing turn when hospital staff suspected her family of abuse and reported their concerns to the Department of Children and Families (DCF). In response, a judge ordered Maya to remain at the hospital under state custody.

What Happened to Maya Kowalski? 

As a result of these unfounded allegations, Maya Kowalski was separated from her family for a staggering 87 days.  Tragically, her mother, Beata Kowalski, had been separated from her for a heart-wrenching 87 days and ultimately took her own life in their family home. This is only after their were talks of Beata being brought up on criminal charges as a result of the suspected “abuse”. During this time, it’s alleged that All Children’s Hospital withheld certain therapies and treatments that would have helped Maya to work through her flair of CRPS much faster.

Now, the surviving members of the Kowalski family are pursuing a legal claim against Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, seeking $200 million in damages. They contend that the actions of both the hospital and DCF directly contributed to Beata Kowalski’s tragic decision to end her life.

What is CRPS? 

Maya’s health ordeal revolved around her battle with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), a rare and debilitating pain disorder that can manifest after an injury. Diagnosing CRPS can be challenging, and sufferers are sometimes wrongly accused of feigning their pain. There is no known cure for CRPS, and treatment options range from acupuncture, nutrition, physical therapy, and massage to Ketamine therapy.

Allegations of Hospital Neglect

The Kowalski family’s contention is that the hospital staff at All Children’s Hospital failed to acknowledge Maya’s CRPS diagnosis, even though her non-affiliated doctor had confirmed it. This same doctor had previously prescribed Ketamine for her treatment.

Hospitals and healthcare providers have a legal duty to provide a standard of care that meets established medical standards. When they fail to meet this duty, and it results in harm to a patient, legal action may be pursued to seek compensation for damages.

Here are some key points to consider if you are contemplating a lawsuit against a hospital for neglect or medical malpractice:

  1. Consult an Attorney: It’s essential to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can evaluate your case and provide legal guidance. They will help you understand if you have a valid claim and what your options are.
  2. Establish Negligence: To have a viable medical malpractice case, you must establish that the hospital or healthcare provider’s actions (or lack thereof) fell below the accepted standard of care, and this negligence resulted in harm to you.
  3. Causation: You must demonstrate a direct link between the hospital’s negligence and the harm you suffered. This means showing that the negligence was the proximate cause of your injuries.
  4. Damages: You must have suffered quantifiable damages as a result of the hospital’s negligence. These damages can include medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more.
  5. Statute of Limitations: There are deadlines, known as statutes of limitations, within which you must file a medical malpractice lawsuit. These deadlines vary by jurisdiction, so it’s crucial to act promptly and consult with an attorney to ensure you do not miss the filing deadline.
  6. Expert Witnesses: Medical malpractice cases often require expert witnesses who can testify about the standard of care and whether it was breached in your case.
  7. Settlement vs. Trial: In some cases, hospitals and their insurers may offer settlements to avoid going to trial. Your attorney can negotiate on your behalf and advise you on whether a settlement offer is fair.

It’s important to note that medical malpractice cases can be complex and challenging to prove. Hospitals and healthcare providers typically have strong legal teams, and these cases can take time and resources to pursue. Consulting with a qualified personal injury attorney is a crucial step in determining the merits of your case and understanding your options for seeking compensation if you believe you have been a victim of hospital neglect or medical malpractice.

Was Maya Kowalski Being Over Medicated? 

Maya had been receiving Ketamine infusion therapy for over a year as part of her CRPS treatment while at the hospital. Her mother, Beata Kowalski, insisted on the continuation of this treatment, which raised concerns among hospital staff. They reported her to the Child Abuse Hotline, suspecting that Beata, a registered nurse, was intentionally making her daughter ill.

As the investigation into child abuse allegations unfolded, a judge ordered Maya to remain in the hospital, preventing her from being discharged to her family or another treatment facility. She was also denied access to her mother. Tragically, Beata Kowalski took her own life about three months after Maya was taken into state custody, leaving a note expressing her anguish over being separated from her daughter and treated like a criminal. Maya was eventually allowed to return to her family following her mother’s death.

Hospital’s Defense and Legal Battle

The Kowalski family’s legal battle against Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital is a gripping saga that delves deep into the heart of medical ethics, parental rights, and the profound consequences of actions taken within the healthcare system. At the core of this emotionally charged case lies a pivotal question: Did the hospital’s actions play a role in the tragic decision of Beata Kowalski, a mother torn apart from her daughter Maya, to end her own life?

The hospital staunchly defends its position, contending that they meticulously adhered to state law by promptly reporting their concerns regarding Maya’s medical condition to the appropriate authorities. From their perspective, they were merely fulfilling their duty to safeguard the welfare of a young patient, even if it meant taking actions that would ultimately result in the most profound of consequences.

However, the Kowalski family paints a starkly contrasting narrative. They allege that the hospital staff not only accused them of falsehoods concerning Maya’s diagnosis of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) but also withheld vital treatments that they firmly believe could have alleviated her suffering. To compound their anguish, the family was shocked to discover that, during this tumultuous period, they were billed an exorbitant sum, exceeding half a million dollars, for Maya’s medical care. Such allegations have cast a long shadow over the hospital’s actions, raising questions about their financial motivations and the quality of care provided.

One of the key points of contention in this legal dispute revolves around the administration of Ketamine treatments to Maya. While the Kowalski family insists that these treatments were a crucial component of her medical regimen and essential for managing her debilitating pain, the hospital is expected to argue that the use of Ketamine, particularly for a child, was perilous and inappropriate. This raises a pivotal debate about the appropriateness of unconventional treatments and the boundaries between parental rights and medical expertise.

As the legal proceedings unfold, the burden of untangling this intricate web of conflicting narratives falls squarely upon the shoulders of the jury. They are tasked with the daunting responsibility of determining whether the tragic sequence of events that befell the Kowalski family could have been prevented. More significantly, they must weigh whether the actions – or inactions – of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital played a significant role in Beata Kowalski’s heart-wrenching decision to take her own life.

In this heart-wrenching courtroom drama, the Kowalski family seeks not only compensatory damages to mitigate their overwhelming losses but also punitive damages. They hope that such punitive measures will not only hold the hospital accountable for their perceived failings but also serve as a deterrent, preventing similar heartaches for other families navigating the complex terrain of healthcare.

This courtroom battle is not just about legal technicalities; it’s a profound exploration of human suffering, medical judgment, and the pursuit of justice. It serves as a poignant reminder of the far-reaching consequences that medical decisions can have on the lives of patients and their families, echoing long after the gavel falls in the hallowed halls of justice.

Previous Settlements and Ongoing Legal Battle

It’s worth noting that the Kowalski family previously settled with the DCF Suncoast Center and Dr. Sally Smith, a child abuse pediatrician who once worked for the center. However, they dropped their case against DCF social worker Catherine Bedy, opting to continue suing the hospital.

This trial is expected to last up to two months, shedding light on a heart-wrenching and complex series of events that have deeply impacted the Kowalski family.

The “Take Care of Maya” trial is definitely ones that our personal injury attorneys will be paying close attention to. If you suspected that you or a loved one have been impacted as a result of the negligence of a hospital, we strongly encourage you to get in touch with our team of experienced trial attorneys.

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