Attorneys in Md. Pelvic Exam Picture Suit to Receive $32 Million - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Attorneys in Md. Pelvic Exam Picture Suit to Receive $32 Million

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BALTIMORE, Md. (AP) - Attorneys representing more than 8,000 women who were secretly recorded during pelvic exams by a gynecologist at Johns Hopkins will receive $32 million in legal fees from a settlement with the hospital system.

An order signed by a Baltimore judge Wednesday awarded attorneys from eight law firms 17.25 percent of the $190 million settlement. The settlement will be divided among patients of Dr. Nikita Levy, a gynecologist who surreptitiously videotaped and photographed thousands of women during gynecological exams at a Hopkins-affiliated clinic.

The attorneys had initially asked Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Sylvester Cox to earmark 35 percent of the settlement for legal fees. Though the Judge dipped significantly below the attorneys' request in his judgment, Cox wrote in his order that similar settlements over $100 million tend to show legal fee percentages between 4 and 18 percent.

The order also says the attorneys will be reimbursed $829,690 for expenses.

In his order the judge said the settlement "achieved extraordinary results," calling it "unprecedented."

Jonathan Schochor, the lead attorney in the case, said he and the other attorneys will not challenge the judge's order.

Schochor would not elaborate on how the $32 million will be divided among attorneys.

"We are very, very gratified," Schochor said Wednesday. "At the end of the day when you can sit back and say that we have achieved the highest settlement for a single sex-abuse perpetrator in our nation's history, that we can utter those words on behalf of our clients? We're elated as lawyers."

Dr. Nikita Levy was fired after 25 years with the Johns Hopkins Health System in Baltimore in February 2013 after a female co-worker spotted the pen-like camera he wore around his neck and alerted authorities. At the time of his firing he was practicing at the Hopkins East Baltimore Medical Center.

Levy committed suicide days later, as a federal investigation led to roughly 1,200 videos and 140 images stored on computers in his home.

Hopkins agreed to the settlement last July. Schochor said the settlement has been fully funded as of March 2, and is in an interest-bearing account. Schochor said whatever interest before the funds are allocated to the women will go to them, and not the lawyers.

In determining the legal fee percentage, Cox took into account the time and labor required, the novelty of the case and the skills necessary to adequately represent the class, as well as the risks involved in taking on such an unwieldy case.

"We saved 9,000 women from having to potentially relive this experience in the courtroom and through depositions, and that has tremendous value," said attorney Janet Howard, who represents some of the women in the class. "The irony about class action is, the quicker and more efficient the case and the better result you accomplish can sometimes result in a lesser percentage of fee. But it was always the clients first."

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