BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A follow-up to an unprecedented settlement between Johns Hopkins and patients of a gynecologist who secretly recorded them. Hopkins has agreed to pay almost $200 million, but some victims worry their lawyers are getting too big of a cut.
Mike Hellgren is delving into the controversy.
Judge Sylvester Cox will hold a hearing to discuss the fairness of the settlement later this month.
Twenty-five former patients of the late Johns Hopkins gynecologist Nikita Levy have, through a law firm, filed a formal objection to what they claim are excessive legal fees in a landmark settlement. They claim lawyers want a 35 percent cut of the $190 million.
The money could be split among roughly 8,000 victims. Some of them have told WJZ they do not expect to see much.
“There are numerous amounts of lawyers that have to get a cut of this and other fees. So I think, no, it’s not fair,” said Jessica Allen, former patient of Dr. Levy.
In a $190 million settlement, the 35 percent fee would mean about $66.5 million for the lawyers. In another recent case, lawyers got 22.5 percent. That would still be more than $42 million.
But one of the main law firms representing patients notes objections like this are common, and any final legal fees are up to the judge, who could change them. Also, no lawyer will decide individual amounts for former patients. A team, including female forensic psychiatrists, will interview every victim.
“Many are afraid to go back to their doctors. They’ve quit the medical system,” said Jonathan Schochor, lead lawyer for plaintiffs. “We need closure. In my opinion, respectfully, we need it now.”
Police believe Dr. Levy used pen cameras to violate his patients’ trust. They now simply want what’s fair.
“When it all boils down, they know exactly how much the victims are going to get. It’s not going to be much,” Allen said.
The law firm that filed the objection to the legal fees did not get back to WJZ. The $190 million will be placed into an escrow account, which could grow with interest by another $10 million or more before the claims are paid.
Anyone who believes she was a victim of Dr. Levy has until November 14 to add her name to the settlement.
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