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Case of Johns Hopkins gynecologist who photographed patients may settle for $190M


The Johns Hopkins Health System Corp. has reached a preliminary $190 million settlement with about 7,000 patients who were allegedly secretly photographed and videotaped over a 25-year period by a staff gynecologist who has since committed suicide.

A lawsuit filed in October in Circuit Court for Baltimore City charged that beginning in 1988, Dr. Nikita A. Levy secretly photographed and/or videotaped his patients. Dr. Levy was found dead in his home on Feb. 19, 2013, shortly after his employment was terminated by the Baltimore-based health care system, according to court papers.

Johns Hopkins said in a statement that the settlement, which received preliminary court approval on Monday, will be paid for by insurance, but a spokeswoman did not respond to a request for more information.

Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins University are among the Class A subscribers of Burlington, Vermont-based MCIC Vermont Inc., a reciprocal risk retention group that provides medical professional and general liability insurance coverage and risk management services to its academic medical center subscribers.

Ronald J. Werthman, vice president of finance, chief financial officer and treasurer of Johns Hopkins Health System Corp. and Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Frederick G. Savage, Johns Hopkins University's deputy general counsel, both serve on its board of directors, according to the risk retention group's website. The group was formed in 1997. An MCIC spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

“Since last fall, Johns Hopkins Health System has been engaged in settlement discussions with attorneys representing people who may have been affected by the actions of Dr. Nikita Levy,” said Johns Hopkins in its statement Monday.

“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. 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.”

The statement says also, “This settlement, which has been formalized by the plaintiffs' attorneys and the Health System and given preliminary approval by the judge, will not in any way compromise the ability of the Health System to serve its patients, staff and community.

“We assure you that one individual does not define Johns Hopkins. 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.”

Plaintiff attorney Jonathan Schochor of law firm Schochor, Frederico & Staton P.A. in Baltimore, who filed the lawsuit, said 7,000-8,000 women will participate in the settlement, with the amounts to be determined by the circumstances and severity of damages involved. “We don't have a firm number yet,” he said. “As you can imagine, there is a good deal of duplication” in registration for the settlement, with some plaintiffs registering multiple times.

A fairness hearing on the settlement has been set for Sept. 14 in circuit court in Baltimore to determine whether a final judgment in the settlement should be issued, according to court papers.