Class action lawsuits can be some of the most challenging cases for an attorney to take on. When a large number of plaintiffs suffer damages at the hands of a single party, it is often more efficient for them to bring a class action suit, in which one or several plaintiffs sue the defendant on behalf of all the plaintiffs, and then divide up the compensation between them. While these cases are typically more expedient and cost effective than launching many individual lawsuits, they do create the added complication of how to fairly divide the settlement.
One high profile case that has proved particularly difficult for both its victims and attorneys is the lawsuit against Johns Hopkins Health System for the unauthorized photographing of thousands of patients’ genitalia by gynecologist Dr. Nikita Levy. Dr. Levy was caught using a pen camera to photograph his patients early last year, and soon afterwards police found thousands of videos and over a hundred still photographs of his patients on the doctor’s home computer and hard drives.
Additionally, Dr. Levy has been accused by a number of his patients of making inappropriate comments about their bodies, practicing without the presence of medical observers, and frequently calling in certain patients for unnecessary examinations. Two weeks after he was caught, Dr. Levy confessed to his crimes in a suicide note and suffocated himself.
Johns Hopkins agreed earlier this week to a settlement of $190 million, and the case’s attorneys are now faced with the difficult task of apportioning this settlement into equitable shares. Dr. Levy saw over 12,600 patients during his 25-year tenure at Johns Hopkins, and because he never included the women’s faces in his pictures and videos it is nearly impossible to discern which of these patients were photographed by him.
The patients who have come forward with claims are now being asked to meet with post-traumatic stress specialists and forensic psychologists in order to determine the level of trauma they endured.
The dividing of the $190 million sum will be a long and painful process to victims that have already suffered emotional and psychological damage at the hands of Dr. Levy. A number of the women have dropped out of the health system altogether in response to the breach of trust they have experienced, and some have stopped bringing their children in to see doctors, according to the plaintiff’s lead attorney Jonathan Schochor. And there are other victims, like Dr. Levy’s wife, who will see no compensation at all.
Dr. Levy’s actions have produced tragic consequences for so many individuals. Our hearts go out to the loved ones he left behind, and we’re thankful that the patients he took advantage of can experience a quantum of retribution for the trauma they endured.
Sources: Associated Press, The, “Hopkins to Pay $190M to Patients of Gynecologist Who Secretly Videotaped Women,” CBS News, July 21 2014.
Associated Press, The, “Patients secretly taped by Johns Hopkins gynecologist must feel trauma to share $190M settlement,” ABC 7 News, July 25 2014.
Dance, Scott and Justin George, “Hopkins gynecologist may have had 9,000 victims,” The Baltimore Sun, November 1, 2013.