Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published Friday, July 25, 2014 at 5:00 PM

  • Share:
             
  • Comments
  • Print

Pelvis-photo victims must recount trauma to share $190M

Thousands of women may qualify to share in a $190 million settlement from Johns Hopkins Health System, but to do so they must describe exam-room trauma at the hands of a doctor who used a tiny camera to photograph patients’ genitals.


The Associated Press

Reader Comments
Hide / Show comments
"The eight law firms involved said they could ask for as much as 35 percent to cover costs" LOL. Yeah. That's why... MORE

advertising

BALTIMORE — Thousands of women whose genitals might have been photographed during gynecological exams can share a $190 million settlement from Johns Hopkins Health System. But they’ll have to describe their trauma before seeing any money.

That might be painful for some women who feel profoundly violated by Dr. Nikita Levy, who committed suicide in February 2013 after being caught with hundreds of pelvis pictures. Others who have gotten over their shock in the year and a half since then might wonder if it’s worth their trouble.

And still other patients who didn’t recall any exam-room trauma might try to collect anyway.

One woman who contacted The Associated Press seeking to join the class action couldn’t remember Levy, but said she would try for the money.

“I could have been a victim, and if I was, he should have to pay for what he did and the hospital should have been more aware of what was going on at the facility,” the woman said. The AP does not usually identify possible victims of sex crimes.

As many as 8,000 women and girls already have joined the class action. News of the huge settlement filed Monday may encourage more of the 12,600 patients Levy saw during his 25 years at Hopkins to sign up as well.

Investigators found 1,200 videos and 140 images on Levy’s home computers, which they believe he secretly took with tiny cameras during exams. But none were linked to any particular patient, and none were shared. Levy committed suicide without explaining himself or pointing to any victims.

What comes next depends on each woman’s perception of her suffering.

The eight law firms involved said they could ask for as much as 35 percent to cover costs, leaving $123.5 million in an interest-bearing account until each woman’s claim is resolved.

That could add up to thousands of dollars to women whose private parts might have ended up on the doctor’s hard drives.

But it won’t be divided equally. Some women who also reported being sexually abused by the doctor presumably would be entitled to much more. Others who shook off their trauma might get nothing at all.

“Every woman qualifies for the suit, but they have to have been damaged,” said the class-action’s lead attorney, Jonathan Schochor. “If they suffered no damages, it’s the same as driving through a stop sign and not hitting anybody.”

Levy worked at the Johns Hopkins-affiliated East Baltimore Medical Center clinic until he was fired in February 2013, after a female co-worker alerted hospital security to the tiny pen camera he wore around his neck.

His suicide days later, and the revelation by police that he kept a trove of images, made news. Lawyers soon competed for patients, and their claims eventually were combined into the class action.

With Monday’s settlement filing, a notice was sent to his patients explaining the next steps. The women can speak publicly at a “fairness hearing” on Sept. 19, where the judge, Sylvester Cox, also could finalize the settlement and approve legal fees.

Thirty-five percent would be roughly $66.5 million. Some experts say that’s high, but not unheard of. Cox recently awarded lawyers 40 percent of a $37 million settlement with 273 patients of a cardiologist accused of performing unnecessary heart surgeries.

Each woman seeking money must fill out a questionnaire and be interviewed by a team of forensic psychiatrists, post-traumatic stress specialists and attorneys. Their experiences, emotions and circumstantial factors will determine their level of trauma for the court, ranging from “severely negative experiences, perceptions or symptoms” to “moderate,” “mild” or “no identified” symptoms.

The women must describe how much time they spent with Levy, whether a nurse was present, and any sexual, verbal or physical abuse. Emotions count, including physical manifestations of stress such as nausea, anxiety and nightmares. Circumstantial factors include whether a woman has a history of sexual abuse or violence, and whether her health care has suffered.



Free 4-week trial, then $99 a year for unlimited seattletimes.com access. Try it now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Career Center Blog

Career Center Blog

Looking for joy on the job


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►