BALTIMORE (AP) - A proposed settlement between Johns Hopkins hospital and 8,000 former patients of a gynecologist who secretly recorded exams is being challenged, with some women saying lawyers could get too much of the $190 million deal.
Twenty-five of those former patients filed an objection to the settlement last week, saying the proposed legal fees of up to 35 percent are too high. The objection also calls into question how each of the former patients will be evaluated to determine the amount of money she will receive.
Hopkins agreed in July to pay $190 million to former patients of Dr. Nikita Levy, who was fired from a Hopkins-affiliated community clinic in February 2013 for recording photographs and videos of his patients using a camera pen. Levy later committed suicide.
The settlement is one of the largest on record in the U.S. involving sexual misconduct by a physician. The case produced no criminal charges after investigators earlier this year determined that Levy did not share or distribute the images.
The objection, filed Aug. 27, says the proposed settlement, which is subject to final judicial approval, proposes “excessive” legal fees for the plaintiffs’ attorneys. The objection also criticizes the clarity of the evaluation process, in which each plaintiff will be interviewed by a team of psychiatrists and attorneys and placed into a category based on trauma level. The category into which each patient is placed will help determine the monetary value of her payment.
“The proposed Agreement fails to specify the high and low range of recovery for each category,” the objection reads. “Therefore, claimants have no ability to assess the fairness and reasonableness of the likely recovery to which they may be entitled.”
A fairness hearing will be held Sept. 19; however, one plaintiff said in a handwritten letter included in the objection that she does not plan to attend.
In her letter, the plaintiff writes that she suffers from anxiety and depression and routinely cuts herself, and that “Dr. Nikita Levy took my trust in doctors” and “ruined my life and even after death he continues to ruin my life.”
The Associated Press does not identify victims of sexual abuse.
Attorneys filed the class-action lawsuit against Johns Hopkins Hospital System in October 2013, alleging that the hospital should have been aware of Levy’s misconduct and that officials failed to discover, stop and report his actions. During his 25-year tenure at Johns Hopkins, Levy saw about 12,500 patients