SEASON 03 | EPISODE 13
Just when we thought the endless saga of Kowalski v Johns Hopkins All Childrens was over…it turns out it might only be beginning.
In this episode, lead attorney for the Johns Hopkins All Childrens defense team, Ethen Shapiro, offers an insider’s perspective on what happened in during the trial and what’s happened in the wake of it.
Tina and Andrea discuss newly introduced evidence including Beata’s requests to increase medications despite risks, Dr. Kirkpatrick’s questionable diagnostic process, and communications illuminating Beata’s substantial role in daughter Maya’s care.
Shapiro unpacks how harmful the verdict is for healthcare providers now unsure about reporting potential abuse and explains why the media coverage of this case and others like it is asymmetrical warfare.
We discuss the motion for a new trial based on juror misconduct, what happens next, and what it all means.
Host Andrea Dunlop:
For behind-the-scenes photos:
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For information and resources:
The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children’s MBP Practice Guidelines can be downloaded here.
More about Dr. Marc Feldman:
Read Beata’s emails and view Ethen Shapiro’s slide deck laying out the case: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1FpSFjvX_8WB5cgPCI0E_cpXj1jaeVcC4?usp=sharing
Watch Ethen Shapiro’s closing arguments on Law & Crime’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HBYKAN3BxM
[00:00:00] Hi, it’s Andrea. Before we get into today’s episode, I want to address some comments about episode six of this season. In that episode, I recommend a podcast called The Witch Trials of J. K. Rowling. So just for clarity, I recommended this show in the context of the Kowalski trial and talking to people you disagree with.
Um, I am in full agreement that J. K. Rowling is a problematic person and I absolutely disagree with her beliefs. about trans issues in that community 100%.
Additionally, our guest in that episode was Laura Richards, who I’ve also heard from a number of folks after that episode aired that she’s said some things about the transgender community that I deeply disagree with, so I wanted to let that be known.
So just to clarify, I absolutely believe that trans people deserve human rights. I believe trans women are women. End of story.
So without further delay, here’s our episode.
Nobody Should Believe Me is a production of Larj [00:01:00] Media. That’s L A R J Media.
Before we begin, a quick warning that in this show we discuss child abuse and this content may be difficult for some listeners.
I’m Andrea Dunlop and this is Nobody Should Believe Me.
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If you or someone you know is suffering from medical child abuse, please go to Munchausensupport. com. We have lots of resources there for survivors,
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And we love hearing from you! So do reach out. Our email is hello at nobodyshouldbelieveme. com or you can leave us a voicemail at 484 798 0266 and we may use that voicemail in the show so please be sure to let us know [00:02:00] if you do not want us to do that.
People believe their eyes. That’s something that actually is so central to this whole issue and to people that experience this is that we do believe the people that we love when they’re telling us something. If you questioned every thing that everyone told you, you couldn’t make it through your day.
In any legal drama, we all know that the story comes to an end when the jury’s verdict is read. The good guy wins, or doesn’t, and we all go home. Maybe we just learned a lesson about justice or its failings, but it’s the end of the story either way. And with the stunning November 9th verdict in the Kowalski case, it seemed like that was it.
This legal drama that I’d been watching for nine weeks straight was over. I’ve been handed a note from the jury that reads as follows. We have reached a verdict. [00:03:00] Now it’s time to grapple with the fallout. I knew there was likely to be a whole series of appeals from Johns Hopkins. This is a massive award.
It is precedent setting in a whole bunch of different ways. You know, this is a quarter of a billion dollars. It’s enough to really make an impact on Johns Hopkins, all children’s and their ability to function. And it also can set all kinds of legal precedent. You know, affecting everything from mandatory reporting to the idea that an institution can be liable for a person’s death by suicide.
But, I really figured that this portion of the process would be this long, anticlimactic, drawn out process. But, late in the day, on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the docket for the Sarasota County Clerk, which I have still been watching like a hawk, started filling up with all of these new filings for the defense and these weren’t for appeals.
They were asking for an entirely new [00:04:00] trial and the contents of these filings was pretty shocking. I famously am not a lawyer. This really seemed to me like Oh, this is more serious than just kind of legal posturing, like big things to sort of move things along. It actually really seemed like reading through these that something had actually gone down here.
So as I was metabolizing what was in here, I started to think like, Is this bizarre reality show of Kowalski versus Johns Hopkins going to get a second season? Are we going to get an entirely new trial, start from day one, new jury and all? So to get some answers about all of the stuff that went down during this trial, what’s happened since and what’s coming next, we went straight to the source.
Hi, I’m Ethan Shapiro. I’m an attorney at the law firm of Hill Ward Henderson in Tampa, Florida, where I’ve been practicing law here for 20 years. I specialize in the defense [00:05:00] of healthcare providers and practitioners. In the Kowalski case, my role was as trial counsel for Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.
My producer Tina and I met Ethan in his downtown Tampa offices where we chatted in a conference room with really beautiful views of Tampa Bay. I’m going to have you get pretty close up to that microphone. Ethan has been involved in this case since it began back in 2018, and he’s been working in healthcare law for decades.
He said he’s always loved this work, but the past several years have definitely brought a whole bunch of new challenges to the job. Based on what I’ve seen, but I’m certainly part of groups that are talking about national trends and the national trends in terms of verdicts and, uh, outcomes of trials for healthcare providers is certainly tracking in the wrong direction from our perspective.
The days of people banging pots and pans for healthcare providers as they leave the hospital seem to have been fleeting and [00:06:00] there’s a lot more skepticism. of the health care profession that we’re seeing from jurors. If it’s a larger distrust of authority in society is certainly something that’s above my pay grade but we have to factor it in as trial lawyers trying cases for health care providers.
Having watched Ethan throughout this trial I’ve been really impressed by how he laid out this really complicated story with so much clarity. Our focus was to make sure that we had a very good timeline for the jury to understand that by the time the Kowalskis had presented to All Children’s Hospital in October of 2017, for example, Maya hadn’t walked according to their testimony in over a year, that other providers had raised red flags.
And as you saw, as you followed the trial, some of that evidence came in and some of that evidence was restricted from coming in. So obviously this was a massively complicated case. This trial went on for nine weeks, and Ethan Shapiro, in his closing [00:07:00] arguments, put together a PowerPoint really
laying out the defense of this case, and I thought this was so crucial, and I’m gonna Alright.
include a link in the show notes because I just thought this really distilled it down to the facts, basically. I mean, he had all of these different medical providers from different institutions and what they had said about Maya’s symptoms, about conversion disorder, about the behavior. And he also had just all of these really key pieces of evidence where the Kowalskis themselves in their own words had contradicted the plaintiff’s narrative.
And even with everything that was omitted from the defense because they weren’t allowed to share it, I still couldn’t understand how people could look at. All that laid out so clearly and hold on to the idea of Beata’s innocence. But the truth is, they were missing a [00:08:00] really big piece of context that I had.
The court ultimately ruled that evidence of medical child abuse was largely irrelevant to the proceedings in this case. The court laid out its reasons why. The defense disagreed with those reasons in real time. to the extent that influenced the jury, we’ll never know for sure because we don’t have an opportunity to talk with the jurors individually, at least at this point.
What were the reasons that the judge gave? Um, the judge ultimately decided that this case was more about medical malpractice and how Maya was treated at the hospital and believed that the allegations of medical child abuse had been disposed of by a grant of statutory immunity, which from the mind of the defense was partial at best.
What he’s referring to here is a directed verdict that the judge made [00:09:00] ruling that the initial call that was made to the DCF hotline by the hospital was made in good faith and that dispensed with the false accusation and malicious prosecution charges that were originally included in the plaintiff’s filings.
The court tried to respect the statutory immunity that mandatory reporters are afforded in Florida by saying, in general, that we’re not liable for the phone call. And so if all children’s providers cannot be sued for the phone call, then in the court’s mind, whether There was a good faith basis for it, meaning whether there was evidence of medical child abuse was no longer relevant for the jury’s consideration.
And while, uh, I understand where the court was coming from, the, the problem from the defense perspective, and again, I’m only speaking for the defense, I’m not speaking for the court or my client, but the problem from the defense
perspective [00:10:00] was that for the first four and a half weeks of trial and including through opening statement, the plaintiff repeatedly told the jury.
We’re going to show you that these false allegations of medical child abuse caused Beata Kowalski to go into this tailspin, caused, uh, the unnecessary separation of Maya from her family. So the jury had heard from the plaintiff that these were unsupported allegations, but when it came time for the defense to put on evidence that would support the medical provider’s decision making, the court found that that was no longer relevant to the case.
So, even with the false allegation and malicious prosecution charges off the table, these concepts really remained very central to the plaintiff’s narrative. The plaintiff, who had been presenting for weeks by the time the defense got up, had gone on at length about how these accusations about Munchausen by proxy with Beata were false.
They mentioned Munchausen by [00:11:00] proxy dozens of times. Gregory Anderson, in his opening statements, said, We will prove that these accusations were false. Right? And Dr. Chopra specifically was asked if Beata had Munchausen by proxy, to which of course he said no. They also talked about Dr. Duncan’s psych report where she said that Munchausen by proxy could quote, safely be ruled out.
And they even included a videotaped deposition from Dr. Eli Neuberger, who is a well known expert in the field who almost always sides with alleged offenders. And he testified about why Beata didn’t have Munchausen by proxy. So Dr. Neuberger’s deposition is actually mentioned in one of the new defense filings specifically because the language he used was very extreme.
He said, among other things, that these doctors were all in a, quote, conspiracy, that Dr. Sally Smith was leading the charge, that it was [00:12:00] cruel to wean Maya off her medications, which, just to remind you, she has never been back on since. And he also said that the actions of these doctors propelled Beata to take her own life.
This is very strong testimony. It’s worth pointing out that he was wrong on a number of the basic facts of this case, including that Maya suffered from severe asthma. This is a claim of Beata’s that’s not supported by any of the documentation as we now know from her medical records. And Dr. Eli Neuberger said that Maya had had her port removed while she was in the hospital under the direction of You guessed it, Dr.
Sally Smith. So, just to clarify, the request to remove Maya’s port was made by one of her treating physicians, not Dr. Smith, but Beata denied it and the port stayed in until after Maya was out of Johns Hopkins. So, this is All in the jury’s head and the defense halfway through the trial is barred from sharing the considerable evidence that this [00:13:00] was Munchausen by proxy or medical child abuse.
So it was really strange to watch this trial play out knowing so much more than the jury was allowed to know. And even so, I just wondered how anyone could reasonably think that there wasn’t something amiss with Maya’s medical care before she ever got to Johns Hopkins All Children’s. How do so many healthcare providers across multiple states, across multiple times arrive at the same conclusion, uh, specifically their diagnoses?
And I think that’s one of the things that the defense was trying to focus on was that this is not a multi state conspiracy against the Kowalskis. that this was very clearly a number of physicians at world class institutions, whether it’s Lurie Children’s Hospital, Tampa General Hospital, Lee Memorial Health System, and Dr.
Mendez, including the providers at Nemours Children’s Hospital, that we’re also talking about [00:14:00] evidence based approaches to medicine. This is what we mean about standard of care. similarly reasonable, prudent physicians believe is a diagnosis. And, uh, the fact that a number of physicians came to the same conclusion was something that the defense felt was very compelling in our argument to the jury that this was proper medical care given to Mayakovsky.
This testimony from all of these doctors reflected an astoundingly consistent pattern of the symptoms from Maya, concerning behavior from Beata, and resoundingly, that her diagnosis was conversion disorder. Not CRPS. We did hear from Nurse Practitioner Bonnie Rice from Tampa General and from Dr. Elvin Mendez about their previous reports and or concerns about medical child abuse specifically.
But in terms of the conclusions about that abuse, we didn’t get to hear it. And Dr. [00:15:00] Sally Smith, who didn’t just report suspicions but investigated them thoroughly and issued a 47 page report on them, never got to explain herself. Her role versus that of the medical providers both at All Children’s Hospital and at Lurie Children’s Hospital or Tampa General Hospital or anywhere, this is a very important distinction because what a mandatory reporter does is report what they believe is a reasonable suspicion of medical child abuse or neglect.
It’s then up to the child protective team to decide whether to investigate it, how far to investigate it, uh, to compile the evidence that they have either in support or not in support of a potential allegation of medical child abuse and whether that That should be put together in a petition to petition a judge of local competency to intervene on behalf of the child.
So the other person who was investigating these charges, [00:16:00] again, the crime of medical child abuse, not Beata’s psychological condition, was Detective Stephanie Graham. And she was similarly limited in what she could testify about, i. e. she couldn’t talk about what she found about whether abuse was happening or not.
during her investigations. She could never weigh in on what she found to support or not support Dr. Smith’s conclusions. Now, on paper, I guess this makes some kind of sense that you wouldn’t really need to put Beata on trial to determine whether or not medical malpractice had happened and that was essentially the argument that the court gave.
But the plaintiff claimed all along that the hospital kept Maya there on purpose to punish the Kowalskis and get insurance money for her CRPS. So without that context of the very real danger that Maya was in, what is a jury supposed to make of the fact that they kept her there for three months? So, those of us watching this trial got to see a lot [00:17:00] of things the jury didn’t.
We got to see in some cases, you know, exhibits or pieces of testimony that were included as a proffer, which Ethan explained to us. So to give you a real simple example of what a proffer means, let’s say you have a situation where two cars collide at an intersection and three witnesses say that the light was red and that driver Shapiro was responsible and one witness says that the light was green and driver smith was responsible and the court ultimately decides that the person saying driver smith was responsible is an unreliable drunk and has prior convictions for perjury and therefore where that person was standing is unreliable and is not going to come into evidence and so the plaintiff stands up in closing argument and says driver shapiro is clearly liable for this All three witnesses said that the light was red and he ran it.
Well, what I can do is put on the testimony of the person who said the light was [00:18:00] green outside the presence of the jury so that that way I can have that testimony on the record. Were you at the intersection? Was the light green? Were you standing? Was it lit where you were standing? Were you sober at the time?
So that way I have a record I can then bring to the appellate court and tell the appellate court that I was prejudiced at my trial because I had competent testimony from an eyewitness that said the light was green when I approached the intersection. And if I don’t proffer that testimony, if I don’t put that on in the record, That I don’t have a record to go to the appellate court and say there was competing evidence that the judge excluded.
The defense was so hamstrung by the various rulings around which evidence could be included that it was difficult to make the key point that the doctors And the state intervened because if they hadn’t, Maya could have died. So one of the benefits for everybody in looking at this case was, uh, to her credit, Beata [00:19:00] Kowalski was a very detailed historian.
And so despite the fact of a Dr. Kirkpatrick trying to downplay the dangers of giving, Ketamine at those doses in the office, Beata Kowalski had simultaneous notes where she documented the hallucinations, where she documented the saturations, the ability of the body to take oxygen falling rapidly, um, and really dangerous vital signs in real time, which is part of the fear.
of medical providers hearing of these doses and wondering is the next dose going to be the one that’s fatal? And what about what Beata had to say about all this? One of the most compelling documents in some of this newly publicly released stuff from the post trial motion that came out right before Thanksgiving is a lengthy string of emails between Beata and And a bunch of different medical professionals, mostly Dr.
Herkpatrick. There are also some to Dr. Hanna, who is the practitioner who administered the 55 high dose ketamine infusions during this time [00:20:00] period. And also Dr. Cantu, who is the doctor in Mexico who administered the ketamine coma. So I’m going to include a link to these documents in the show notes in case you want to take a deep dive.
But these are, and I feel like I’m overusing this word in this episode, but these are shocking. Um. So I read through this entire packet on the way to Florida when Tina and I were going to do this interview. And once we got there, Tina and I sat down to unpack what was in there. Okay, like one of the biggest questions that I had Going in, when I was trying to, you know, trying to go into this case with an open mind and having always questions about Dr.
Kirkpatrick and his all cash clinic, etc. Was like, was Beata witnessing these things with her daughter and she’s an over anxious mom and she got bad advice? from a doctor. Who escalated? Who suggested that she escalated?
What’s [00:21:00] very clear in these emails is that Beata was driving the escalation. Beata was talking about the ketamine coma three weeks in from the diagnosis.
So not like six months down the road, you know. Right. And you found something else that was like only a couple of weeks into the diagnosis, right? Yes. Yes. So there was, you know, we’d known previously about this conversation about Beata trying to label Maya as terminal. So what we now have is a copy of a prescription that was written and signed on Dr.
Kirkpatrick’s prescription pad. Now, importantly, both he and the pharmacist who was included in this whole conversation say that they did not. order Maya to be labeled as terminal. Nonetheless, we have her prescription. It’s for a large amount of Dilaudid and she is labeled as terminal and that [00:22:00] is from the 5th of November.
So this is a couple of weeks after she originally gets diagnosed by Dr. Kirkpatrick with CRPS. And Dilaudid isn’t something you just get. I mean, I, the, my only context. You know, not a doctor, I don’t know anything about any of this except that, that I remember that word so vividly because when my aunt was in hospice, she was given Dilaudid.
And I remember it was sort of part of the protocol and my sister kind of arguing with the doctor around Dilaudid. Uh, it was, it just rings a bell. I don’t know anything about it, but. It’s a, well, I, I did, I, I checked with. I checked with Dr. Becks and it is an extremely powerful opioid. And I think that actually it’s sort of the presence of the opioid medications in this conversation were a little underplayed.
We all know now if you’ve paid any attention to the news like how dangerous opioids are. And it’s nuts that she was being given both ketamine and Dilaudid. Well [00:23:00] and Beata at one point suggests fentanyl. Oh my god. I mean it’s just like and then there’s this conversation about her. Why would she? Why would she suggest fentanyl?
Like, was something not working? Well, she said that she didn’t respond well to morphine. So again, this is like, this is like in the first month of the diagnosis. And we’re talking about, you know, and she also says, oh, she’s already been on high doses of oxycodone. I mean, so it’s just like the, the, the dosages.
And how old is she? And she’s nine. She’s nine at the time. This is a nine year old girl. There’s also this comment about, you know, there’s this conversation
back and forth about opioids and Benadryl because I think that was something Maya was taking for her alleged allergies. I have no idea about the allergies.
And Beata said, oh, well, she’s been on large doses of Benadryl since she was two or three. Wow. That was very striking. And then that, and that was the context that Dr. Kirkpatrick said, probably a [00:24:00] good idea to keep Narcan. And of course, probably again, if we are all familiar with Narcan because like libraries and all these places keep it on hand because there’s so many opioid overdoses.
So I mean like it’s just like the idea that this girl was not in danger is so blown away by these emails. Right. Okay. So then the other thing that is in these emails is a whole bunch of stuff about Dr. Kirkpatrick. So, Dr. Kirkpatrick is the key witness on the doctor side, right, for the dependency hearing and then even for the trial that just happened.
Hold on. Did the jury get to see any of these emails? No. Okay. No. These have been introduced in the post trial motions. So we saw a couple of emails from Beata. The emails that we saw, and some of those were included in this chain, the emails that we saw were draft posts of her blog. writing in Maya’s voice during her academy.
They did not see any of these communications. [00:25:00] And I mean, like truly Dr. Kirkpatrick. He’s, he’s wild. I mean, so, so a couple of things about him. I mean, I hardly know where to begin. I feel like I could start an offshoot podcast about weird doctors with cash clinics. But anyway, a couple of things about him and this, this seems in the weeds, but I promise it is actually very important.
So, there was so much conversation and, and the plaintiff really got a lot of mileage out of this idea of who is qualified to diagnose CRPS. Right? Dr. Smith didn’t know CRPS. Johns Hopkins didn’t. And that was like the whole, actually, premise of the medical malpractice thing. It’s like these, she has CRPS, these doctors didn’t know how to treat it.
So Dr. Kirkpatrick was their expert there. He’s the guy, he’s the CRPS guy, right? We now know, obviously, he’s not board certified in anything. Like, So what was really interesting that came through in this is there’s a whole back and forth. So some of these emails [00:26:00] take us into the period where she’s being sheltered in Johns Hopkins.
Okay. And there’s this question of the Budapest criteria. The Budapest criteria, it seems to be like one of the only things that both sides can agree upon is the medically accepted way to diagnose CRPS. Okay. Right? And. There was a whole bunch of stuff even about Dr. Sally Smith’s report about her not making a note that Dr.
Kirkpatrick had talked about diagnosing her with the Budapest Criteria. And even in his own testimony, he was like, yep, the Budapest Criteria, that’s how we diagnose CRPS. In these emails, he basically says, The Budapest criteria is bullshit. The doctor who invented it is very controversial. He only testifies that people don’t have CRPS.
And he said this isn’t the way to diagnose CRPS. And he gives his own protocol instead. That’s like a link to his blog. The only other doctor that he seems to respect is Dr. Cantu. [00:27:00] He says all this stuff about Dr. Sally Smith. You know, he says, Dr. Smith is a dangerous doctor and must be disqualified as a medical expert.
In this case, her statements on the record contradict well established scientific facts. This is what Dr. Kirkpatrick says in an email about Sally Smith. So her statements on the record contradict well established scientific facts about CRPS, especially in children. Also, he says to Beata, There isn’t well established science on children.
So it’s just like, he just, medicine to him is whatever he says it is. Okay, yeah, that’s a lot. So what, was there anything else in these emails that were like, was super bonkers to you? Yeah, I mean, I think it’s been interesting to read anything in Beata’s voice. It just speaks volumes and we’re not hearing from her except for these communications.
So she basically has this like very noticeable difference in how she talks about medical providers. On the one hand, you have any medical [00:28:00] providers, providers who’ve disagreed with her or questioned her. So, specifically, Bonnie Rice at Tampa General Hospital, who we know eventually reported her. She says that she is a witch.
She says Tampa General tortured her daughter. Um, she has this whole back and forth about one of the GI specialists, Dr. Willsley, and how bad he is. And that was the office that she was fired from because of her behavior. So you can see, and then like Dr. Sally Smith is evil. She uses this very sort of religious language to describe these doctors.
And then. In her emails to Dr. Kirkpatrick, they’re very over familiar. She’s signing them with X’s and O’s and angel emojis, and it’s God bless you, you’re a hero, you saved us. So it’s like, if a doctor’s agreeing with her, they’re God, and if a doctor is disagreeing with her, they’re the devil. There’s no sort of like, oh, we’re trying to get to the bottom of it.
It just totally goes to bed. It’s like, if you question Beata, you’re the devil, you tortured her daughter, you’re evil, and if you go along with her, uh, You’re good. You’re good. Okay. So what [00:29:00] else? Like specifically, because. You know, when you hear this, I think in some people’s minds, they can be like, yeah, of course, if somebody disagrees with you, disagrees with you, you don’t like them.
But if they agree with you, you like them or whatever. So I know that there are some other really specific things that stuck out to you that we’re talking about before. Yeah, I mean, number one, it’s really clear she’s driving all of the escalations and that she wants them. Because, again, it’s. the email blog post that we saw, it’s cheerful.
When she gets, when Maya gets her PICC line, her port put in, Beata’s emailing the doctors to let them know that, and she says, Yay! In all caps, five exclamation points. She got her port in! And it’s like, that’s not, I’m so relieved my daughter’s gotten the thing I need. That’s, I’m excited about the way that this is escalating.
And again, it’s like, if any of these things were one instance, You could say weird day, weird tone, weird use of exclamation points. But like, that is consistently from Beata’s [00:30:00] communications what we have seen. Did she talk to anybody else back and forth about Maya or like, what was going on? So we’ve been led to believe, right, that like, Johns Hopkins was the one who was holding things up.
That they were the reason that Maya existed. stayed at that hospital for three months. That’s a huge piece of this case. That speaks to the false imprisonment claim. What these emails tell us is that one of the main reasons this got held up was because Dr. Kirkpatrick couldn’t be nailed down to testify and he wouldn’t testify until they paid him an 8, 000 retainer.
And Debra Salisbury says specifically, like, I just filed a 45 day continuance for a bunch of reasons. The biggest one is that they haven’t been able to get you to testify. So it wasn’t the hospital that was prolonging things, it was Dr. Kirkpatrick.
I’d like to think that hearing all of this additional evidence would have made a difference to the outcome of this case. But as we learned [00:31:00] really quickly after this verdict came down, it may not have. According to one of the numerous post trial motions from the defense, this jury might have been tainted from day one.
So this all has to do with the now infamous foreman of the jury, juror number one, who the defense attempted to swap out for an alternate. So, the motion for his removal happened right before the jury was set to deliberate. It was a lengthy motion and it included evidence that the defense argued showed that the juror had made up his mind before the defense even began presenting their case.
An essential tenet of our jury system is to have jurors that come in fair and impartial and to keep their impartiality until the defense case is put on. And we had a concern based on some of the questions that had been laid forth, uh, whether, uh, this particular juror had been able to satisfy that obligation.
You know, watching all of this go down in the [00:32:00] courtroom was strange. At first, both parties seemed like they were fine with swapping out juror number one for an alternate. But then, Gregory Anderson, who is the lead attorney for the Kowalskis, just suddenly kind of changed course and said he needed to discuss it with his client.
You know who I didn’t check with through this whole thing? My client. Ah, well, that would be important. So, Anderson Goes back to the desk, talks it over with Jack Kowalski, he comes back, and they’ve changed course. He said his client is more comfortable keeping juror number one, so they are now objecting to the motion to get rid of.
that juror. And then the judge ruled that juror number one could stay. I’m gonna deny the motion, um, to remove juror number one. And now we know what happened next. Two days later, massive ruling in favor of the Kowalskis. So, you know, unlike those of us at home whose only experience of the jury was hearing the questions that they asked, Ethan and the other [00:33:00] attorneys could see their faces and their body language as they were listening to everything that was said.
So, you know, I have a hunch maybe Ethan was not as shocked as the rest of us when this verdict came down. But right away, because of his background, he understood the ramifications. The hospitals keeping Maya there, under the orders of the court, had been turned into something else. Imprisonment. Medical kidnapping.
So, the evidence regarding the first few days of the hospital I thought were very compelling for the defense. Uh, the hospital recommended a weaning schedule for Maya, and we have ample evidence that the family agreed to that schedule. Uh, and it wasn’t just one doctor or one healthcare provider that documented the family’s agreement with the weaning schedule.
It was several across several different specialties and across several different units from the emergency department to the ICU. And so forth. Um, again, you know, we feel confident that when the evidence is [00:34:00] weighed and reweighed by the trial court and eventually the appellate courts, uh, they’ll come to the same agreement that there, there was nothing approaching a false imprisonment and that the family agreed to a very evidence based approach to a plan of care.
We, we heard Mr. Kowalski testify that, uh, he was told he was threatened by an armed security guard with arrest. All Children’s Hospital does not have armed security guards at care planning meetings. Uh, that was a piece of evidence that we felt that we could adequately refute, uh, did adequately refute and we’re confident in our appellate rights on that point.
And messages from Beata, ever the prolific communicator, also back this up. We had documented evidence from Beata Kowalski as late as October 11th, uh, that they had agreed with the plan of care. We also have additional evidence that didn’t come in about, uh, Mr. Kowalski praising Dr. Elliott, who was one of the pain management specialists, uh, in, in his role in the case.
So again, in real [00:35:00] time, we have, uh, very good evidence. that the Kowalskis agreed to the plaintiff care at All Children’s Hospital, uh, up and through when the court sheltered Maya Kowalski on October 13th, finding that her release back to the family presented an imminent danger to Maya. You know, the plaintiff’s narrative really was that everything the hospital did was cruel, including taking Maya off these medications.
You know, Dr. Eli Neuberger, the expert who gave that deposition, used that word, that it was cruel that they took her off all these medications. The Kowalski’s agreed to this plan.
Ethan and I agree that the reverberations of this verdict go so far beyond just this family. And I know from hearing from people, Dr. Beck said this, all my colleagues said this, Shapiro said this, that there was just this wave of panic that went out amongst healthcare workers this day. I have not met any healthcare workers that are unaware of this case in [00:36:00] pediatrics.
So, you know, part of this is because Pediatric hospitals are in this really unique position. The government considers hospitals a safe place for children, and that means that their role goes far beyond just reporting abuse. My fear is it’s not just a chilling effect, because if you’re a healthcare provider looking at a questionable situation, And wondering if I make the call, what’s going to happen, especially children’s hospitals, Andrew, because you have to remember that, you know, as opposed to police officers and firefighters that can make a call, they’re not going to be responsible for the child if the court orders them sheltered.
So you have a situation where a hospital has to make a decision or a health care provider has to make a decision. Do I call this? I am reasonably suspicious, but do I call this in? If they call it and Child Protective Services decides to investigate it and decides that there’s reasonable grounds to pursue a shelter order and [00:37:00] the judge agrees with them.
That the child’s an imminent risk and danger, you’re creating a situation now where the hospital or health care provider is going to be the custodian of the child with parents who already disagree with the decision. And now what? What if you end up in a situation like with the Kowalski family, where, you know, after all children’s hospital successfully weaned Maya off?
What they thought were unnecessary and dangerous medications, uh, we’re in a position where they say to the court, we’re ready to transfer the child, but, but the, the, the state and the dependency court and the family can’t agree. And it goes on and on and on. And, and when you look at what can happen in a situation where the parties can’t agree on where a child can be discharged to, the hospital can face tremendous exposure, even though they do not have control over the decision for discharge.
People just have no idea what this actually [00:38:00] means. How dire this is for abused children. And the fact that, like, people say I’m fear mongering when I say this, but every single professional I’ve talked to in this space knows that this means that children are going to die. And thankfully, the Johns Hopkins people and their lawyers understand the gravity of this verdict.
This isn’t just like a, you know, this isn’t just like a case to win or lose and you take some, you lose some, whatever. This is really has such serious implications and I think that’s a big reason that they’re keeping up the fight. I’ve joked about watching this trial kind of being like watching a reality show, but I think it really occurred to me as soon as this was over that this effect was actually very real for a lot of the people who were spending all that time in the courtroom.
So What happened after the verdict, you know, [00:39:00] juror number one immediately revealed his identity and his wife posted a photo of him all in his fancy suit for verdict day or for deliberation day. And, you know, he really gave off this vibe of being pretty ready for his 15 minutes. And was like, very into the hero worship that he was receiving for all of these people who were cheering on this verdict and for sticking it to Johns Hopkins as they saw it.
So this new motion that popped up on the docket the night before Thanksgiving, it’s not some dry appellate motion. But it is a call for a whole new trial and what it was based on was this call for a new trial based on juror misconduct. So this is the lengthy motion and Tina and I took a look through this when we were back in the office.
Okay, so this whole thing is definitely not over. There is a motion for a full on new trial. [00:40:00] Which means new juror everything. So that juror number one, I still don’t really get it all. Like, juror number one is in or out. What came out about this dude? Well, so right. They tried to get him off. Judge said no.
So he stayed on the jury. And now what’s come out is that his wife. Yolanda, who goes by the name Hippo Lover, on social media. Hippo? Like hippopotamus? Like Hippo Lover. Yeah, I think the icon is a hippo. Hippos are great. Hippos. I also love hippos. Don’t lie. Um, but, yeah, basically she is posting all the way through the trial, and it looks like also in some kind of, there’s a lot of like, pro plaintiff groups, right?
So these take care of my Facebook pages, like this, this, this trial is just a continuation of this movie. I mean, I, I can’t emphasize enough how it’s just all one thing at this point. It reeks of like the Clarence Thomas stuff, right? Like where his wife was doing all this stuff and he’s on the [00:41:00] Supreme Court.
So there’s a juror whose wife is out there doing some bananas behaviors. Yes. Yes. Yeah. And so she’s She’s on these, like, it’s become very clear which social media forums are pro plaintiff and which ones are like Pro-D defense. And so it’s become very much like a team sport. So she’s on YouTube chats, she’s doing super chats, which is when you actually donate money to a YouTuber to get your question answered.
Wow. She’s like making all these posts and you know, in some cases. prefacing questions that the juror is going to ask and she talks about Juror Leo, which is the law enforcement officer because he has some law enforcement background.
So she’s like, Juror Leo is going to ask Detective Graham about blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
So obviously the trial? This is during the trial. So Obviously, they are under oath. We heard Judge Carroll say this, like, a thousand times. Every single time the jury comes in and every time they leave, he says, you’re not supposed to talk to anybody, but you should receive no information, don’t talk to each other, don’t talk to anyone.
As he says that, and he confirms every time they come back in, he says, you didn’t talk to [00:42:00] anybody, you didn’t blah, blah, blah, blah. So, If he was talking to his wife, and now, like, on the one hand, like, this trial was nine weeks, they’re not sequestered. Sure, he’s gonna talk to his wife, but fine. Not fine, but whatever.
You’re not supposed to do that. You are at home. But then if she’s going out into the world Right. There’s just, like, a line here that seems pretty clearly to have been crossed. And the other thing That’s interesting. So in some cases, Yolanda, his wife, actually showed up in court and was sitting in court.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, you know, in theory, like it was open court, but she’s sitting with this TikToker, Jules, who got very close to the Kowalskis and was like covering, she was there every day almost during trial. So they have her there, they have her talking. Yeah, she’s like the family’s advocate, basically.
Wow. And they’re like, There’s pictures of them talking to each other. There’s social media interactions where it was like, so great to meet you at court today. Can’t wait to hang out. I know you have my phone number, like, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So it’s just like, Juror’s wife hanging out with a, I mean, come on.
Not just a juror, the [00:43:00] foreman of the juror. So like, there’s all of the Yolanda stuff. Okay. And then there’s also. The stuff that, like, the juror himself did. So, like, the juror immediately, like, Juror number one. Juror number one. So, juror number one, his name is Paul, um, Lingle, I think is their last name.
Pardon my pronunciation on that. There’s, like, a lot of consonants I think he’ll forgive you after everything else we’re saying about him. Yeah, I’m sure that’s not the thing he’s going to be mad about. Um, so, his wife’s doing all of this. And then, like, he comes out immediately. And. Again, like, it’s, it’s perfectly
legal for a juror to talk about their experiences after they’re released from their oath, right?
They can go talk to the media, they can go on social media, they can do whatever they want. But like, in terms of it being a good look or a bad look, he’s on there, he’s just like, thank you all so much for your support, because he finds out he wasn’t really speaking.
Oh, so right after the verdict comes [00:44:00] out, he’s saying things like, thanks for supporting me. And now that would lead us to believe that he knew something was going on while he was juroring. Right. Or just like, it’s, he’s just taking this position. Like, I think we like to believe that this is like a clean process.
And he’s in there liking these memes. Okay, so at what point is his wife, like, buddies with the Kowalskis? Like, how does she know this YouTuber? At what point does she get so involved in this case? Is it, like, before he becomes a juror or her husband becomes a juror and she’s like, Oh, he’s, this case is going to be really cool or something.
Or, you know, interesting or in the public eye. So, what it looks like. is that he wanted to get on this jury. Yeah. Because, perhaps, his wife had extremely strong feelings about this case. She was following the film’s producer. She was on this before he was on [00:45:00] the jury. Oh, okay. I mean, come on. Right. And like, you know, So that’s what their, their, the motion right now is like, this was a bad trial because the number one juror had ties to this case.
And that she was giving him all, so, you know, we talked already in this episode about like, oh, we saw this information the juror didn’t see. If you have your spouse and they’re super invested, and they’re watching everything, and they’re reading all the social medias, and they’re giving you that information as a juror that you’re not supposed to have, that taints the verdict.
Completely, yeah. Yeah. Okay, what else? Okay, so that’s the kind of juror part of the motion. And then there’s another motion for a new trial that is just like basically taking issue with the court’s rulings itself. So they’re talking about things like the size of the award, you know, they gave them, it was already a bonkers amount of money to ask for and they gave them more.
Um, and then they just basically like, they use this term manifest weight of the evidence. So basically like the evidence does not match up with the decision or the award at all. Like this is [00:46:00] not like, and then they point out all these
errors during trial. You know, one of the biggest claims, obviously, being that the judge barred them from having testimony about medical child abuse.
Yeah, so is that part of this motion? They’re saying, like, because you threw that out that, okay, good. Basically, like, you need captive defense. And they specifically talk about Eli Neuberger’s testimony that you let someone who, like, His only job, like the only thing Dr. Eli Neuberger does for like the last 24 years is be an expert testimony about child abuse.
So like you let someone testify about that and then you didn’t let their experts on, you didn’t even let them answer it. Okay. Wow. Wow. Alright. So, new trial hopefully. We don’t know yet. Yeah. So I’ll include a link to the motions because I think they are interesting to look at. It’s interesting to look at all of these screenshots on social media.
The interplay of social media and cases in the modern day is really interesting. It names a bunch of other social media people that were involved in this case. Um, thankfully not yours [00:47:00] truly. Uh, and You know, I have to say, like, looking through this motion and looking at all these screenshots of these memes and these conversations that were happening, which, like, a lot of it I tried to mostly avoid while I was covering this trial, it just really seems like so much.
The seriousness of what’s happened here and what is happening here has become completely lost on most people that are talking about this story. This isn’t a legal story. It’s not even a medical story or a crime story. This has become a pop culture story. And it’s like, this is the story starring the family from the hit Netflix movie. And That’s a movie that I believe is largely fictional, and I feel like we’re living in its universe.
That’s all next time on Nobody Should Believe Me.
Nobody Should Believe Me is a production of Larj Media. Our Senior Producer is Tina Nole, and our [00:48:00] Editor is Corine Kuehlthau.
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Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 10Everything Everything EverythingIn the finale of Season 2, we finally hear from the person at the center of our story: Alyssa Waybourn. Despite the immense challenges she has faced, Alyssa shines as a beacon of...
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Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 04RetaliationNote: This episode contains sensitive content related to child abuse and suicide. Listener discretion is advised. Beata Kowalski’s tragic death by suicide in January of 2016 is at the center of the $220...
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Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 09The VerdictAndrea and special guest Bex (aka our Florida pediatrcian friend) process the shocking verdict in the Maya Kowalski trial. After 9 weeks of testimony, the jury awarded the Kowalski family nearly $300 million...
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