A teenager whose heartbreaking account of how her mother took her own life after she was accused of Munchausen-by-proxy was the focus of a recent Netflix documentary wept Thursday during opening arguments in a $200 million jury trial in Florida.
Maya Kowalski's family claims that doctors at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital separated the then 9-year-old from her family after accusing her of faking symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome.
Her story was featured on Netflix Take care of Maya Documentary that claims Maya's mother Beata took her own life after being denied access to her daughter for 87 days.
“Maya Kowalski was falsely imprisoned, mistreated, and denied communication with her family,” the Kowalskis’ attorney, Greg Anderson, told the jury, according to Fox13.
According to Fox13, 17-year-old Maya burst into tears when she learned that Beata had died by suicide after being denied permission to see her while child abuse allegations were being investigated.
“From her doctors’ perspective, the doctors in the emergency room and the hospital felt Beata was crazy and thought she was trying to hurt her daughter. “Then explain why Maya didn’t come in with a bruise, bump, cut, scrape or any poor medical tests,” Mr. Anderson added.
The court heard how the family's nightmare began after Maya was rushed to the emergency room at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in October 2016 to seek help for complex regional pain syndrome, a rare and debilitating disease.
Maya had been taking ketamine infusion therapy for a year to treat symptoms, her family said.
When Beata, a nurse, arrived at the hospital and insisted on giving her daughter more ketamine, they became suspicious and contacted a child abuse hotline.
A state judge and Florida's Department of Children and Families later sided with doctors who suspected Beata had Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a mental disorder in which parents make up their child's illness.
The judge ordered Maya to be kept in the hospital and not allowed to see Beata.
After 87 days, Beata took her own life at the age of 43.
In his opening argument for Johns Hopkins All Children's, attorney Howard Hunter insisted that the hospital would pose no harm to Ms. Kowalski.
“This is about who is responsible. We will go through the facts and what the facts don't show in terms of a connection between what All Children's did and this tragic outcome,” Mr. Hunter said, according to Fox13.
The family is suing Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital and the Department of Children and Families for $55 million in compensatory damages and $165 million in punitive damages.
The first witnesses are expected to be called on Friday and the trial is expected to last two months.