It was reported on July 21, 2014 that the Johns Hopkins Health System has reached an agreement with the lawyers representing a class of more than 8,000 former patients of a former Johns Hopkins gynecologist who secretly recorded gynecological examinations of his patients, using a pen-like hidden camera that he wore around his neck. The images included approximately 1,200 videos and 140 photos that did not include the victims’ faces.
The 54-year-old gynecologist received his medical training in New York and began working for Johns Hopkins Medicine in 1988. His last office location was at the Johns Hopkins East Baltimore Medical Center. Over the years that he had worked for Johns Hopkins, the gynecologist had seen about 12,600 patients.
After a colleague brought her suspicions of the former gynecologist to the attention of officials of Johns Hopkins, the gynecologist was fired in February 2013. He committed suicide at home ten days later.
Many of the former gynecologist’s patients have alleged that they suffered humiliation, embarrassment, and other severe mental and emotional injuries after they were advised late last year regarding the allegations by letters they received from Johns Hopkins. Some claim to have suffered distrust of their doctors and some have dropped their medical care through Johns Hopkins. The devastating breach of trust has caused some to become dysfunctional at work, at home, and with their significant others. Some of the women required counseling. Each plaintiff was interviewed by a forensic psychologist as well as a post-traumatic stress specialist to determine the extent of their injuries and to determine the amount of compensation they will receive.
The lawyers for the class-action plaintiffs alleged that Johns Hopkins knew or should have known about the gynecologist’s wrongful actions. The settlement has received preliminary approval but still needs final approval by the court after a judge holds a fairness hearing during which the plaintiffs will have an opportunity to speak. Court papers seeking final approval of the $190 million settlement were filed on July 21, 2014.
Johns Hopkins Medicine had issued a statement last October in which it stated, in part: “We are also moving as quickly as possible to attempt to resolve legal issues fairly and equitably and in a way that helps our patients and colleagues move forward. In an effort to pursue a global resolution of all claims, the plaintiffs and Johns Hopkins have jointly requested that the Circuit Court for Baltimore City conditionally certify a settlement class. If the court approves the parties’ request, then all individuals who may have a claim relating to Dr. Levy’s activities – including all of his former patients – would be automatically included in the class. The parties will ask the court to approve a plan to provide notice to all class members by mail, newspaper ads and/or television in a way that protects the privacy of all those affected.”
In announcing the settlement of the claims, the Johns Hopkins Health System stated that the settlement proceeds will come from insurance and that it “will not in any way compromise the ability of the Health System to serve its patients, staff and community,” further stating that law enforcement officials had determined that the images had not been shared with others.
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