Judge Gives Final Approval to $73M Settlement In Lawsuit Against Former UCLA Gynecologist James Heaps
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A federal judge Monday gave final approval to a $73 million settlement in a lawsuit brought by more than 5,500 women who allege they were sexually assaulted by former UCLA campus gynecologist/oncologist James Heaps.
Originally filed in 2019, the lawsuit accused Heaps of sexually abusing patients during examinations, recommending unnecessary procedures and overly frequent examinations to create additional opportunities for abuse, making inappropriate and sexually suggestive comments and removing patients' clothing or gowns without consent.
The lawsuit also alleged that UCLA failed to protect patients after it was made aware of the alleged misconduct.
All $73 million will go toward compensating the more than 5,500 women who were treated by Heaps at either Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center from 1986-2018, the school's student health center from 1983-2010 or Heaps' university medical office from 2014-2018, according to the plaintiffs' attorneys.
The settlement provides an automatic $2,500 payment for all class members, and those wishing to come forward with specific claims of abuse can seek up to $250,000, lawyers said.
The settlement also requires the university to ensure stronger oversight procedures for identification, prevention and reporting of sexual misconduct.
Following the approval, UCLA Health said in a statement that it could not comment on the specifics of the settlement but condemned the Heaps' alleged actions.
"We can say unequivocally that sexual misconduct or abuse is inexcusable," the statement said. "We remain committed to providing quality care that respects the dignity of every patient."
Heaps, 64, is facing 21 counts of sexual abuse offenses in a criminal case that accuses him of sexually assaulting seven women. If convicted as charged, he faces more than 67 years in prison.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
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