'Take Care of Maya' case: Hospital demands new trial citing juror's note with alleged Nazi symbols

Both sides in the ‘Take Care of Maya’ case were back in court on Friday morning. 

In November, a jury awarded the Kowalski family more than $260 million in damages after finding that JHAC had falsely imprisoned Maya, fraudulently billed her family, caused them severe emotional distress, and that social worker Catherine Bedy had battered Maya, and Dr. Sally Smith medically neglected her.

Attorneys for Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital have since filed several motions alleging juror misconduct and bias. 

Their most recent motion, filed just last week, accuses a juror of being prejudiced against Johns Hopkins and their witness, Dr. Smith. 

READ: 'Take Care of Maya’ trial: All Children’s Hospital attorneys play supervised calls for jury in $220M case

The defense team says the juror used a Nazi symbol in his notes when referring to Smith. Johns Hopkins attorneys say he spelled her name with sharply shaped S's like those used by the Nazi SS. 

The Nazi SS was the paramilitary group that served Nazi party leader Adolf Hitler. 

"Printing the first letter of Dr. Smith's first and last name in this manner makes clear Juror No. 1's bias and prejudice against Dr. Smith (and thus Defendant), equating Dr. Smith with a notorious Nazi organization," wrote the JHAC legal team. 

According to the motion, the juror only wrote his S's in this manner when spelling Sally Smith’s name. 

READ: ‘Take Care of Maya’ trial: Defense witnesses shocked by ketamine doses given to child as $220M case continues

In their response, the Kowalskis’ attorneys call the accusation an "inflammatory" and "desperate" attempt to tarnish the name of a juror, who they say did nothing wrong. 

Tom Elligett, an attorney for the Kowalski family, argued that the use of these letters didn't necessarily equate to the Nazi symbol.

"These letters are commonly used, for a long time," Tom Elligett, an attorney for the Kowalski family said. "It does not mean it’s a Nazi symbol."

In Gregory Anderson's, another attorney for the Kowalskis, response, he pointed to multiple examples of where the juror did not use the symbol to write Smith's name.

"Defendant’s intent to discredit Juror No. 1, above all else, is clear," wrote Kowalski attorney Gregory Anderson. "Before suggesting that Juror No. 1 had such an intent to use Nazi symbolism, and implying that Juror No. 1 was a neo-Nazi or white supremacist based upon his use of such Nazi symbolism, the Defendant developed no evidence, ignored the manifest weight of the other writings of Juror No. 1 suggesting no such intent, and opted for the most heinous explanation of the stylized S’s in Juror No. 1’s note."


Maya Kowalski sits in a Sarasota County courtroom. 

FOX 13 spoke with an attorney who isn't affiliated with the case, who said almost every losing side in a case will comb back through the details, looking for potential red flags in the trial.

"The court system is such that they do not like to grant new trials because the expense on the taxpayers, the lives of the jurors, on everybody, even on the people who are involved in the case, is immense," attorney Dale Appell said.

An earlier motion from the defense also accused the same juror of sharing information during the trial with his wife, who they say then posted her opinions on the case on social media.

READ: ‘Take Care of Maya’ trial: Judge, lawyers discuss jury instructions in $220M case

According to JHAC attorneys, the verdict reveals "potentially harmful" and therefore "presumptively prejudicial" juror misconduct arising out of improper communications and contacts between Juror No. 1 and his wife. The defense also accuses the juror’s wife of feeding him information the jury was not allowed to hear during the trial. 


Maya Kowalski in the hospital.

"Juror No. 1's wife was posting online about the lineup for the next day that included Detective Stephanie Graham," said Ethen Shapiro, an attorney for Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, on Friday. "And the next day, when Detective Graham was on the stage, she was posting in real-time on social media."

An attorney for the Kowalski family argued that the trial was streamed live, so anyone could have been watching it in real-time.

"Just a lot of grasping," Elligett said. "It’s, again, trying to attack by proxy. Who knew who in the courtroom, really? If this goes where they want it to go, you’re not going to have any married jurors."

After listening to both sides, Judge Hunter Carroll said he would not make a ruling before the Christmas holiday on the motions. However, he did say he would let the lawyers know next week if he decides to move forward with a juror interview.