Johns Hopkins Health System has settled for $190 million in a class-action suit against Dr. Nikita Levy, a gynecologist who secretly filmed patients during examinations.
Levy ran an obstetrics and gynecology practice at East Baltimore Medical Center, treating more than 12,500 patients over 25 years. In February of 2013, a colleague of Levy’s told supervisors he suspected Levy was using a spy camera to inappropriately record examinations. The camera was hidden inside what looked like a writing pen, which hung around Levy’s neck during examinations.
When hospital security paid Levy a visit shortly after, they found several cameras in his office and on his person. Levy was let go by Johns Hopkins on February 8—four days after Johns Hopkins officials first learned of the allegations. Baltimore police executed a search warrant for Levy’s home, seizing hard drives, computers, and servers with what they called an “extraordinary amount of evidence.”
Levy committed suicide in February 2013, right after the Baltimore police got involved and a few short weeks after the allegations surfaced. The L.A. Times reports that officers found more than 1,200 video clips and images during a search of his home.
Hundreds of Levy’s former patients have come forward with concerns about being in the footage. Most of the images showed only genitals, making it extremely difficult to determine who was filmed and who was not. Now Levy’s patients now have to live with the fear (or the knowledge) that their privacy was intimately violated and their medical care perverted.
“They are in fear, dismayed, angry, and anxious over a breach of faith, a breach of trust, a betrayal on the part of the medical system,” said attorney Jonathan Schochor, who represented 8,000 plaintiffs in a class-action suit against Johns Hopkins Health System. “Many of our clients still feel betrayed, and still feel the breach of trust they have experienced, and they have fallen out of the medical system.”
Some patients reported Levy brought them in for unnecessary treatments and touched them inappropriately in a medical setting. The class-action suit, which gathered more than 9,000 plaintiffs, alleged that Johns Hopkins failed to protect Levy’s patients by not noticing he was recording them and failed to realize he had committed a number of “boundary violations” during routine appointments.
Donald DeVries, an attorney for Johns Hopkins, believes nothing could be done to prevent Levy’s actions.
“[The recordings were] a colossal breach of trust,” he told reporters. “It’s one of those situations where no matter what rules and regulations you put in place…there’s not a thing you can do to prevent that.”
The $190 settlement is subject to a judge’s approval, and the next hearing is scheduled for September 19. Compensation will be awarded based on a four-tier damage matrix to be designed in the next few months. A forensic psychiatrist will examine Levy’s former patients and determine who shows the most severe damages and therefore will receive the most money.