Opening statements began in a case brought by the Kowalski family against Johns Hopkins Children's Hospital
A Florida court heard opening statements on Thursday in a case brought against the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital by the family of Beata Kowalski, who died by suicide and whose ordeal was chronicled in the Netflix documentary Take Care of Maya.
The Kowalski family has alleged that the hospital played a role in separating Beata's daughter Maya from her family, which contributed to Beata's death by suicide.
At the hearing, which was broadcast live on Fox13 News, Maya appeared in a black blazer and was seen taking notes while a lawyer for representing the hospital shared his opening statement.
Greg Anderson, the Kowalski family’s attorney, alleged the hospital's actions "caused [Beata], in the end, to lose completely and utterly her ability to control her maternal instinct, and the fact outweighed the survival instinct."
As a result, Anderson said, Maya and her brother Kyle were "denied" a "loving, caring, and amazing mother," he added, as Maya shed tears seated behind him. (The Kowalski's ordeal was featured in a PEOPLE cover story.)
One of the hospital’s attorneys said the defense will be objecting to audio recordings presented by the Kowalski family's counsel on the grounds that they are “hearsay.” It’s unclear which recordings were in question; the Netflix documentary featured recordings of phone conversations between Beata and hospital officials, who often appeared to dismiss the concerned mother's questions and requests.
In 2015, Maya was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), a rare neurological condition that can cause excruciating pain in response to the slightest touch, PEOPLE reported previously. She was administered a ketamine treatment by a Tampa doctor who specializes in CRPS.
In 2016, Maya was checked into the Children's Hospital for debilitating stomach pain. Hospital staff would go on to report Beata to authorities after she requested Maya be treated with ketamine, saying the drug had been effective for Maya in the past.
An investigative team later accused Beata of child abuse due to Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSP), a mental disorder in which a caregiver fakes or causes symptoms to make a child look sick.
At Thursday’s hearing, the hospital’s attorneys claimed Beata sought out care that was “aggressive.”
“There was concern that part of this child's condition was being fostered or encouraged by the mother,” an attorney said.
Less than a week after being hospitalized, Maya would be placed under state custody in the hospital. She didn't see her family for three months.
“I was medically kidnapped,” Maya told PEOPLE in an exclusive interview in June.
Without any contact with her daughter, Beata “was deteriorating," Jack Kowalski, Maya’s father, told PEOPLE in June. Jack added that it “destroyed” the mother of two when a judged denied her a request to hug Maya.
In January 2017, without being able to see her daughter and stressed from the accusations of abuse, Beata died by suicide.
“I’m sorry,” she wrote in an email discovered after her death, “but I no longer can take the pain being away from Maya and being treated like a criminal. I cannot watch my daughter suffer in pain and keep getting worse.”
The trial will determine whether the entire series of events could have been prevented and whether the hospital had a role in Beata's suicide, Fox13 News reports.
The family is suing the hospital for $220 million: the Kowalski family demands $55 million be in compensatory damages, and $165 million be paid in punitive damages, according to WTSP.
The court is expected to start the presentation of evidence on Friday.
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