BALTIMORE (AP) — A Baltimore judge was set to hear objections Friday to a preliminary $190 million dollar settlement between Johns Hopkins Hospital System and more than 8,000 patients of a gynecologist who used tiny cameras to secretly photograph women and girls during examinations.
The settlement was reached in July between the renowned hospital and former patients of Dr. Nikita Levy, a Johns Hopkins gynecologist who committed suicide in February 2013 days after police raided his home and recovered thousands of videos and hundreds of images. It still awaits final judicial approval.
The scheduled hearing Friday afternoon on the agreement is one of two so-called fairness hearings planned. A Baltimore city circuit court judge, Sylvester B. Cox, is expected to give plaintiffs their first opportunity in that venue to voice concerns over the settlement amount. A second fairness hearing is set for Oct. 2 to address legal fees and expenses of any settlement.
Authorities say Levy worked at a Hopkins-affiliated medical clinic in East Baltimore for 20 years, during which he treated roughly 12,500 women. He was fired in February of 2013 after a Hopkins employee alerted campus authorities to her suspicions that Levy was secretly recording gynecological exams with a spy pen.
None of the images have been linked to any particular patient because no faces were recorded.
Lawyers filed a class action lawsuit against Johns Hopkins last October alleging that the hospital should have been aware of Levy’s misconduct.
Earlier this month, 25 former patients filed an objection, saying the proposed legal fees — up to 35 percent of the total settlement— were too high. The objection also called for an explanation of how each former patient will be evaluated to determine how much money she will get. A separate hearing on legal fees will be held Oct. 2.
The preliminary agreement, reached in late July, all but closed a case lawyers say traumatized thousands of women and never produced criminal charges. Prosecutors had closed the case earlier this year after investigators determined that Levy did not share or distribute the images.
The judge must secure final approval to the settlement, after which point a team of lawyers and psychologists would begin evaluating the women to determine their level of trauma. Each woman would be placed into one of four categories with the amount of money received from any settlement dependent on her trauma level.