Johns Hopkins Hospital has agreed to pay $190 million to up to 8,500 patients who signed onto a class-action lawsuit against a Hopkins gynecologist for secretly videotaping them and, in some instances, performing unnecessary and unattended pelvic examinations.
The doctor, Nikita Levy, committed suicide last year as police unearthed video clips and images of his patients in his home that were taken by a small cameras hidden in everyday objects like a favorite pen.
The settlement was announced Monday by Jonathan Schochor, a lawyer for the plaintiffs and chair of the plaintiffs’ steering committee. Schochor and Hopkins officials were expected to announce the settlement in a joint appearance Monday afternoon.
“When learning of Dr. Levy’s behavior, our clients were extremely distraught. They felt a great breach of faith and trust. They felt betrayed. Now, with this proposed settlement, we can begin the process of healing our community,” Schochor and committee vice-chair Howard Janet said in a statement. An estimated 12,500 people were victimized by Levy, Schochor said.
Hospital spokesperson Kim Hoppe said hospital officials have been in settlement discussions since fall 2013.
“We have come to an agreement that the plaintiffs’ attorneys and Johns Hopkins Health System believe is fair and properly balances the concerns of thousands of plaintiffs with obligations the Health System has to provide ongoing and superior care to the community,” Hoppe said in a statement “It is our hope that this settlement—and findings by law enforcement that images were not shared—helps those affected achieve a measure of closure.”
Funds for the settlement, which has been approved by the Baltimore City Circuit Court, will be paid through insurance, Hoppe said.
“We assure you that one individual does not define Johns Hopkins,” Hoppe said. “Johns Hopkins is defined by the tens of thousands of employees who come to work determined to provide world-class care for our patients and their families.”
Levy, who was 54 when he died in February 2013, was a graduate of Cornell University Medical College and had worked at Johns Hopkins’s East Baltimore Medical Center since 1988. It is a community clinic that serves the largely low-income and African American surrounding neighborhood.
Many of Levy’s patients who had been loyal to him for years were shocked at the investigation and his subsequent death. A co-worker contacted the hospital’s security department Feb. 4, 2013, about Levy, and within one day, according to hospital officials, they determined the gynecologist had been taking photos and videos of his patients without their knowledge or consent. He was fired Feb. 8, as Baltimore police began to investigate.
Police seized six cameras concealed in pens, two cameras hidden in keychain fobs, four computers and external hard drives from Levy’s Towson-area home. He was found dead Feb. 18, a helium-filled plastic bag over his head, and a note of apology to his wife.