I watched "Take Care of Maya" two nights ago. Didn't know anything about the case. The documentary is brutal. I don't even know if I'd recommend it. It's incredibly sad, and it left me feeling angry and a bit confused. Knowing that documentary filmmakers often set out with a slant or a point they intend to prove, I wondered whether there was information that had been left out, or if the story had been presented in a fair manner. It made no sense to me that the trial for the family had been delayed so many months, so many times, by the courts. It seemed so brutally unfair to the family that I couldn't fathom how the hospital was getting away with what they did.
Well, the very next day (yesterday,) Maya and her family were awared $261 MILLION by a jury. Holy fucking moly.
After more than five years of waiting for their lawsuit against Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital to see its day in court, the Kowalski family finally received closure Thursday after a jury awarded them more than $261 million in damages.
In a case that has captured attention across the country, in part because of a Netflix film released in June 2023 about the Kowalskis' story, attorneys on either side have argued that this was a case between parents' rights to decide what's best for their children and standing up for mandatory reporters when child abuse suspicions arise.
The Kowalskis initially sued All Children's Hospital, social worker Catherine Bedy and former medical director of the Pinellas County Child Protection Team, Dr. Sally Smith, more than a year after Beata Kowalski took her life following child abuse allegations against her which separated 10-year-old Maya from her family following a shelter order.
And just like that, I would recommend the doc. Because now, they have closure and a victory (pending appeal from the defense).
Couple takeaways from the documentary:
1) The parents are incredibly restrained.
Both Maya's mom and dad are insanely calm throughout this. I'm sure they only included the more sane, composed audio/video from their ordeal. But the way the dad recounts the story, I kept wondering how on earth he wasn't losing his goddamn mind. I'm not a dad yet but I'm pretty sure that if a hospital did to my sick daughter what the Johns Hopkins Children's hospital does to Maya, and to our family? I'd John Q that place.
ESPECIALLY the recorded phone conversations we hear between Beata and Maya, where Catherine Bedy keeps interrupting and telling her to "redirect, Mom." If we're to believe this documentary, Catherine Bedy might be the worst person in the world. She's like a mix of Nurse Ratchett from Cuckoo's Nest and Aunt Lydia from Handmaid's Tale. Just a devil with all the power.
Of course, we learn towards the end how Beata was actually being impacted it, and the tragic way things turn out. But still. I would say both parents exhibited remarkable poise and restraint as their family was torn apart by the system.
2) Apparently the laws for treating children with ketamine are a lot more relaxed in Mexico.
This part was kind of glossed over, but I had a lot of questions. The family saw a doctor who immediately diagnosed Maya with CRPS, despite them having seen tons of doctors who had NO idea what was going on. But in order for her to get the amount of ketamine she would need, they had to go to Mexico? Is this like when Jason Street talks about going to get experimental spine surgery with shark parts down in Mexico?
But then they do go and the doctor down there seems… legit. I pictured a guy in a back alley in Mexico City, but this guy has a nice website and a white lab coat and everything. Did they bring the ketamine back over the border? Is this all standard procedure? If a doctor in Mexico writes a prescription for ketamine, can they fill that back in the States, or do they have to keep making trips to Mexico and smuggling it back over the border? So many questions.
I'd say give the doc a watch, now that we know there is a positive outcome for the family.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this blog mistakenly titled the documentary as "Don't Worry Maya." This is because the author had recently watched the film "Don't Worry Darling," which wasn't half as bad as many had said it was.