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Class counsel were seeking 35 percent of the $190 million settlement with the Johns Hopkins Hospital System, announced in July by (from left) Jonathan Schochor and Howard Janet.
Class counsel were seeking 35 percent of the $190 million settlement with the Johns Hopkins Hospital System, announced in July by (from left) Jonathan Schochor and Howard Janet.

Class counsel fight back on fees in Nikita Levy case

Hell hath no fury like a lawyer threatened with the loss of attorneys’ fees.

The leaders of the class counsel representing former patients of Nikita Levy launched a vehement and blistering counterattack Thursday against an objection to their request for 35 percent of the $190 million settlement with the Johns Hopkins Hospital System.

Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Sylvester Cox, who approved the settlement last month, said he would rule as soon as possible on the fees.

Levy, a former gynecologist at Johns Hopkins, took photos and videos of his patients during exams without their knowledge.

Baltimore solo practitioner Barry J. Diamond argued in court filings and in court that class counsel “placed themselves in irreconcilable conflicts” by preferring their 4,000 direct clients over the entire plaintiff class and that the fee was “unreasonable.”

Jonathan Schochor, chairman of the class counsel, repeatedly referred to Diamond as “the lone lawyer objector” to the fees and apologized to the judge for having to rehash particulars of the case.

“He simply has no idea what we accomplished and what we did to accomplish it,” said Schochor, of Schochor, Federico and Staton P.A. in Baltimore.

Howard A. Janet, vice chairman of the class counsel, repeatedly questioned Diamond’s credibility and pointed out several instances where he said Diamond’s argument in court contradicted what was in his court filings.

“This whole objection is based on a fantasy world this gentleman created,” said Janet, of Janet, Jenner & Suggs LLC in Pikesville. “He is not an opportunistic objector. He is an opportunistic objector wannabe.”

Schochor and Janet asked Cox to focus particularly on the result of the case in determining appropriate fees. The lawyers noted they took a case very few thought was winnable and were able to reach a settlement in the litigation in 20 months, knowing the amount of money available for their clients would continue to shrink if the case continued on. That’s because Hopkins’ insurance, which paid for the settlement, is operated under what is known as a “wasting policy,” meaning defense costs come out of the available insurance.

“If we didn’t settle, thousands of our clients risked receiving little to nothing,” Schochor said.

Diamond, for his part, said he was not implying any wrongdoing by the eight firms that acted as class counsel, but is only trying to obtain more money for Levy’s victims. He argued class counsel was treating the case as a mass action and attempting to obtain a contingency fee.

“You’re not entitled to a windfall,” Diamond said.

The class counsel had indicated they could seek up to 35 percent of the total settlement in a notice sent out to prospective plaintiffs, estimated at between 8,000 and 9,000 women.

The case was declared a mandatory class action last November, meaning prospective plaintiffs cannot opt out and sue on their own.

Class counsel are also seeking approximately $830,000 for expenses.

Levy worked at Hopkins from 1988 until Feb. 8, 2013, when the hospital terminated his employment after being alerted to his possible misconduct. Police found 10 file servers’ worth of photos and videos among his possessions. Schochor has said all of the images will be destroyed.

Levy committed suicide less than two weeks after he was fired and days before two groups totaling 2,500 women filed multimillion-dollar class-action lawsuits against the hospital over his conduct.

The settlement was given preliminary approval in July. Individuals have until Nov. 14 to identify themselves as members of the class.

About Danny Jacobs

Danny Jacobs is the legal editor at The Daily Record. He previously covered trial courts at the state and local levels and served as web editor.

5 comments

  1. 35%????? For What????

  2. I am a plaintiff of this case and we have not been notified about whey the panel will see us. The lawyers are the ones who get the biggest reward and people like myself who have suffered traumatic stress are forgotten. I have had to walk away from a secure well paying career job because of what I endured by this man., Levy. When will it end?

  3. Latoya Thompson

    I also have not heard anything , and I want justice for what happened to all of us who suffered. This is very unfair.

  4. I am also a plaintiff of this case and I am at wits end about how long it is taking to settle this matter. It only took a minute to take the messed up pictures he did of me and others who are black, poor, and lack of trust from this doctor. I remember when a patient could not be seen by our provider but was given a referral to a GYN doc and I trusted that he would do the service I asked to be provided in a ethical and professional way. Since this dreadful news has been revealed I have not received a pelvic exam of any kind because I don’t trust the professionals any more than I trust the male doctors. I feel really deprived of my rights as a patient of this industry. The fact that I call continuously wanting to know when I can be compensated for this outrageous act the attorney’s still have no answer as to when. I hate this and feel very humiliated over the fact that this pay off is just lingering on for a long haul.

  5. The lawyers should not get the money that is give to them. The work that they have done should’ve been by the hour at a resonable rate. Not millions of dollars. Like it has always been said the lawyers are keys to the puzzle. And that is telling lies. To get what they want on the behalf of hurting people that have to go through life with pain. NO JUSTICE

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