For over 25 years, Dr. Nikita Levy was a gynecologist practicing at Johns Hopkins Hospital. But in early 2013, a female technician in his office noticed some odd behavior on Dr. Levy’s part, which she reported to her superiors.
Hospital security investigated and confronted Dr. Levy in his office, leading them to believe that he had been surreptitiously photographing and/or videoing patients in compromising and embarrassing situations. Johns Hopkins contacted the Baltimore police.
What the investigation eventually revealed was that Dr. Levy, using special camera-equipped pens, key fobs and other recording devices, had taken pictures and videos of – at a minimum – hundreds of women patients and at least 62 under-aged female patients during exams without their knowledge or consent.
Investigators found over a thousand images on various computers and devices owned by Dr. Levy. There may have been many more that were never discovered. It is also possible that he later shared images on the internet, again without the knowledge or consent of the victims.
Many patients also told lawyers that visits included inappropriate touching and unnecessary physical exams, said Jonathan Schochor, the lead litigator among eight law firms in the class-action suit. Some said Levy practiced without other medical professionals as observers. Schochor also noted that patients reported the use of inappropriate language during exams as well as crude verbal observations and inappropriate remarks.
Dr. Levy was fired by the Hopkins Health System on February 8, 2013. A hospital statement at the time said he was escorted off the premises. Then, just ten days later, he took his own life.
Our role at Schochor, Federico and Staton
We at Schochor, Federico and Staton became involved in the case early. In fact, we were the first firm to file a class action suit against Johns Hopkins. In that February 22, 2013 filing, our clients alleged that the facility where Dr. Levy practiced:
- Negligently failed to properly supervise and oversee Dr. Levy
- Negligently credentialed Dr. Levy
- Knew or should have known about Dr. Levy’s perverse activity but negligently failed to report, stop or prevent its continuation
- Negligently failed to observe his unlawful activity
This, of course, was just the beginning of the process. Over the months that followed, the Schochor, Federico and Staton team conducted extensive interviews of approximately 2,000 victims – thousands of interview hours overall. The firm also consulted with top medical experts in the fields of obstetric and gynecology, as well as forensic psychiatry regarding acceptable procedures, standards of care, conduct, the nature of examinations, and the damages suffered by the victims.
As other victims continued to come forward – some represented by other lawyers – the Schochor firm continued to work to have the litigation certified as a conditional settlement class.
On October 30, 2013, the Judge conditionally certified the class and ordered the creation of a Steering Committee made up of the lawyers representing all of the nearly 8,000 victims.
Because Schochor, Federico and Staton was the first to file a complaint, represented the largest number of individual victims, and had years of experience litigating complex medical malpractice cases, our Managing Partner, Jonathan Schochor, was selected to head the Steering Committee and lead the class action.
Our firm conducted months of interviews, along with intensive research regarding the nature of the trauma suffered by these victims, and the kinds of support they required. Many of our clients suffered from disbelief, fear, anger, depression, and psychological trauma.
Based on what we heard from the victims, we made it a top priority to do all we could to ensure that all of the photos Dr. Levy took never became public. On January 30, 2014, we filed a motion to seal the images that had been confiscated by the Baltimore police, and that motion was subsequently granted.
After months of negotiation, on July 21, 2014, Johns Hopkins Hospital agreed to a $190 million settlement. At the time, it was reported to be the largest settlement in U.S. history involving sexual misconduct by a physician.
In March of 2015, Hopkins paid the $190 million into a special Qualified Settlement Fund. Subsequently, an Allocation Team approved by the Court allocated the funds among the roughly 9,000 victims.
This litigation attracted much attention from both the media and the general public, not only because of the salacious charges and historic settlement, but also because of the sheer volume of lives impacted.
Samples of National News Coverage of the Settlement
- Hospital Agrees to Pay $190 Over Recording of Pelvic Exams: The New York Times
- Hopkins Pays $190M in Pelvis Exam Pix Settlement: The Washington Post
- Charlie Rose Interviews Jonathan Schochor: CBS News