BALTIMORE — Thousands of women whose genitals might have been photographed during gynecological exams can share a $190 million settlement from Johns Hopkins Health System. But they’ll have to describe their trauma before seeing any money.
That might be painful for some women who feel profoundly violated by Dr. Nikita Levy, who committed suicide in February 2013 after being caught with hundreds of pelvis pictures. Others who have gotten over their shock in the year and a half since then might wonder if it’s worth their trouble.
And still other patients who didn’t recall any exam-room trauma might try to collect anyway.
As many as 8,000 women and girls already joined the class action. News of the huge settlement filed Monday may encourage more of the 12,600 patients Levy saw during his 25 years at Hopkins to sign up as well.
Investigators found 1,200 videos and 140 images on Levy’s home computers, which they believe he secretly took with tiny cameras during exams. But none were linked to any particular patient, and none were shared. Levy committed suicide without explaining himself or pointing to any victims.
What comes next depends on each woman’s perception of her suffering.
The eight law firms involved told plaintiffs they could ask for as much as 35 percent to cover costs, leaving $123.5 million in an interest-bearing account until each woman’s claim is resolved.
That could add up to thousands of dollars to women whose private parts might have ended up on the doctor’s hard drives.
But it won’t be divided equally. Some women who also reported being sexually abused by the doctor presumably would be entitled to much more. Others who shook off their trauma might get nothing at all.
“Every woman qualifies for the suit, but they have to have been damaged,” said the class-action’s lead attorney, Jonathan Schochor. “If they suffered no damages, it’s the same as driving through a stop sign and not hitting anybody.”