Administrator of Dr. Levy settlement says checks being issued to patients in batches

Hundreds of former patients of Johns Hopkins gynecologist Dr. Nikita Levy have called the funds administrator in a $190 million settlement over the past week with questions about when their checks will arrive.

Although details announced previously by the claims adjudicator indicated settlement checks would be mailed by June 2, attorney David M. Higgins, the administrator, said the plan was always to mail them out in batches.

As of Friday, about 6,700 checks have been mailed out, Higgins said. More than 8,000 former patients are part of the class-action settlement with Johns Hopkins.

Levy, who was accused of secretly taping women during exams, worked for Hopkins for 25 years. After police began investigating the allegations, the 54-year-old killed himself in 2013. Investigators said they discovered he amassed a collection of more than 1,200 videos and images.

As part of the settlement, women were interviewed and placed into four categories, depending on the effects they suffered. The final amounts due to the women were approved by a judge last month.

Their awards range from just under $1,900 to nearly $28,000. More than half the women — about 4,700 — fall into the category that will receive about $21,500 each.

Before a check can be issued, a search must be conducted to determine whether a claimant owes money to Medicare or Medicaid for treatment associated with the Levy case, according to the court-approved website set up for members of the class action. Those with such reimbursement obligations should receive a letter stating the next steps.

"The lien search and lien resolution is required by the federal government, and the trust fund administrator is working diligently and expeditiously to resolve any lien issues," the website states.

Higgins said checks also may take longer for those have borrowed money against their settlements, changed their names or otherwise have more complicated circumstances than others.

One woman said her frustrations continued even after receiving her settlement check in the mail. Former Levy patient Sonia Brown said employees at a Wells Fargo branch said they couldn't deposit the funds.

She went to another branch of the same bank, and $400 of the check was initially available, she said. But the next day, the money was not available. She later received an electronic notice saying the funds wouldn't be available until June 14. Brown said she is a longtime customer of Wells Fargo.

Higgins said he has received other complaints from Wells Fargo customers and that he complained to the bank this week.

Del Galloway, a Wells Fargo spokesman, said it was difficult to comment on individual cases but that it is "standard operating procedure" to hold check funds in certain circumstances.

Brown said she went into counseling after the allegations against the doctor — who delivered her children — surfaced. She was shocked, she said.

"I have to say, when all of this came out, I went through a lot," Brown said.

alisonk@baltsun.com

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