Johns Hopkins All Children's attorney calls $261M verdict a 'mess'

A lawyer for St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital called the $261 million verdict against it in a case made famous by a Netflix documentary a "mess" in asking for a new trial.

The plaintiff, Jack Kowalski, "created the mess that is this jury's verdict," attorney Chris Altenbernd wrote in a Nov. 20 court filing in Sarasota County, Fla. Mr. Kowalski's legal team had filed a motion Nov. 17 for entry of final judgment on the nine-figure award.

Mr. Kowalski had sued the hospital on behalf of his 17-year-old daughter, Maya, and the estate of his deceased wife, Beata, alleging medical malpractice when it contacted child protective services on suspected Munchausen syndrome by proxy and kept Maya for nearly three months. Beata Kowalski took her own life during that time after not being allowed to see her daughter. A Netflix documentary on the case, "Take Care of Maya," has been viewed millions of times since its June release.

After an eight-week trial, a jury agreed with all the Kowalski family's claims, which included false reporting and medical negligence, awarding them $261 million, including $50 million in punitive damages. Johns Hopkins All Children's plans to appeal.

In the Nov. 20 filing, Mr. Albrend, a former appellate court judge, cited the plaintiff's "improper closing argument" and said Ms. Kowalski becomes an adult in less than three weeks so it makes no sense to enter a judgment for Mr. Kowalski. The attorney also called the more than $100 million in damages for wrongful death "patently excessive" and said the jury awarded more than $37 million for false imprisonment and battery even though "no bodily injury" occurred. The judge set a hearing for Dec. 15 to address the motions.

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