Johns Hopkins All Children's claims juror misconduct after $261M verdict

Lawyers for St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital filed for a retrial on Nov. 22 against a $261 million verdict in a case made famous by a Netflix documentary, alleging that the jury foreman violated stringent conduct rules during the trial, Tampa Bay Times reported Nov. 23. 

In a motion submitted in Sarasota County, the hospital's attorneys asserted that juror Paul Lengyel disclosed case information to his wife, who subsequently shared it on various social media platforms. The motion also claimed that Yolanda Lengyel attended at least one day of the trial in Venice, potentially exposing her to attorney discussions with the judge that occurred outside the jury's presence.

According to the news outlet, throughout the trial, Ms. Lengyel consistently shared updates on live YouTube feeds of the proceedings and participated in a Facebook chat group that largely supported the Kowalski family, who won the case against the hospital. 

Screenshots from social media, included in the legal submission, reveal Ms. Lengyel's interactions with a social media influencer named Jules, who, according to the motion, has connections to the Kowalski family. 

The motion presents as evidence a video posted by Jules on her TikTok page, where she mentions giving Maya Kowalski her rosary beads before Maya's live testimony on Oct. 9.

The motion also states Ms. Lengyel used social media to discuss her husband's intended questions for witnesses and shared information about a juror note received while the jury was deliberating, despite repeated daily reminders to jurors not to discuss the case or read media coverage. The motion calls for a retrial. It also requests an interview and investigation of Ms. Lengyel to uncover any additional potential misconduct.

​​"The evidence reveals a shocking level of involvement in the case and palpable bias in favor of plaintiffs on the part of Juror #1′s wife, Mrs. Lengyel, as well as social media posts sharing 'inside' information Mrs. Lengyel could only have obtained from her husband," the motion reads.

According to the news outlet, in the concluding week of testimony, the hospital's legal representatives had previously attempted to have Mr. Lengyel disqualified from the jury.

This comes after Mr. Kowalski filed a lawsuit against Johns Hopkins All Children's on behalf of his 17-year-old daughter, Maya, and the estate of his late wife, Beata. The lawsuit alleged medical malpractice, asserting that the hospital contacted child protective services over suspected Munchausen syndrome by proxy and retained custody of Maya for nearly three months. Beata Kowalski took her own life during that period, having been denied access to her daughter. A Netflix documentary titled "Take Care of Maya," released in June, has garnered millions of views.

Following an eight-week trial, the jury sided with all the Kowalski family's claims, encompassing false reporting and medical negligence, and awarded them $261 million, including $50 million in punitive damages. Johns Hopkins All Children's intends to pursue an appeal.

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