Johns Hopkins Hospital Requests New Trial Amid Allegations of Juror Misconduct in "Take Care of Maya" Case

Dec 08, 2023, 12:00 PM

The legal battle surrounding the tragic case of Maya Kowalski, featured in the Netflix documentary "Take Care of Maya," has taken a startling turn as Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital seeks a new trial. The hospital alleges juror misconduct during the original proceedings, casting a shadow over the multi-million-dollar verdict awarded to Maya and her family.
 Maya Kowalski and her family were awarded over $250 million in damages after a lengthy legal battle against the hospital and the Florida Department of Children and Families. The lawsuit stemmed from allegations that the hospital accused Maya's mother, Beata Kowalski, of Munchausen-by-proxy, which eventually led to her tragic suicide.
 While the hospital was found liable on all counts, including false imprisonment, battery, and intentionally inflicting emotional distress on both Maya and her mother, the institution now requests a re-trial. Their request hinges on allegations of juror misconduct, specifically involving Juror #1, who also served as the panel's foreperson.
 The hospital's legal team filed a motion on November 22, requesting an interview with Juror #1. A sworn affidavit accompanying the motion claims that there was "potentially harmful" and "presumptively prejudicial" conduct by the juror and his wife. During the trial, the jury was not sequestered, but attorneys for the hospital contend that social media posts by the juror's wife and the juror himself after the trial suggest inappropriate conversations during the proceedings.
 The affidavit alleges that the juror's wife posted information, insights, and opinions about the case on multiple YouTube channels, some of which she could have only known through her husband. Additionally, she indicated that the jury did not favor certain witnesses presented by the Defendant.
 "On a near daily basis, [Juror #1's wife] spent hours online engaged in commentary about the trial proceeding, both in real-time and after the trial day had ended," the affidavit stated.
 The motion also claims that the juror's wife attended the trial in person with a social media influencer known as "Jules," who was described as being closely aligned with the Plaintiffs. Importantly, the hospital's attorneys assert that the juror failed to alert the court about his wife's presence in the courtroom.
 Furthermore, the hospital's lawyers accuse the juror of developing a "shared bias" in favor of the Plaintiffs and engaging in improper internet research regarding case-related issues during the trial.
 During the initial trial, the hospital's legal team had previously requested Juror #1's removal, citing suspicions of bias in favor of the Plaintiffs.
 The Kowalski family's legal victory came after a tumultuous ordeal, during which Maya, then nine years old, sought medical attention for complex regional pain syndrome at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. Despite ongoing ketamine infusion therapy, Maya's condition was allegedly dismissed by hospital personnel. When Beata Kowalski, a nurse, advocated for her daughter's treatment, doctors raised suspicions of Munchausen-by-proxy, ultimately leading to Maya's separation from her mother. Tragically, after 87 days apart, Beata took her own life at the age of 43.
 During the trial, the Kowalski family's lawyer, Mr. Anderson, argued that Maya had been "falsely imprisoned and battered" and denied communication with her family. The jury unanimously found in favor of the Plaintiffs on all counts.
 Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has consistently denied the allegations and insisted that they had no harmful intent towards Ms. Kowalski. Following the verdict earlier this month, the hospital launched an appeal to challenge the decision.
 In a recent development, Maya Kowalski filed a criminal complaint alleging sex abuse by the hospital, a claim that emerged during the trial. A hospital spokesperson confirmed that they had investigated the allegations and contacted law enforcement, emphasizing their commitment to patient safety.
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