On November 16th, 2020, it was announced that UCLA agreed to a $73 million dollar settlement to resolve a class action lawsuit accusing UCLA OB-GYN Dr. James Heaps of assault, abuse and harassment. The lawsuit also alleges that UCLA failed to protect Dr. Heaps’ patients after first becoming aware of the misconduct.
On January 11, 2021, the court granted preliminary approval of the settlement. Notice of the settlement has been disseminated to class members. To access claim forms, upcoming deadlines, and other information about this lawsuit, please visit https://www.uclaheapssettlement.com/. If you have questions, please contact the Settlement Administrator at info@UCLAHeapsSettlement.com or 1-888-921-0726.
Dr. Heaps UCLA Class Action Settlement: Payments to Class Members
The entire $73 million settlement will go towards compensating more than 5,500 women who received treatment from Heaps at either the Ronald Regan UCLA Medical Center from 1986-2018, the school’s student health center from 1983-2010, or Heaps’ university medical office from 2014-2018.
The settlement is organized into a 3-tiered structure, which provides survivors control over how they want to participate and delivers relief in a swifter and more private manner than protracted litigation.
The tiers of compensation for class members include:
- Tier 1: Women who have been pre-identified as class members based on university records will automatically receive a $2,500 payment without any action required on their part. Those who have not been pre-identified can submit a form either online or through the mail to seek their compensation. All Tier 1 patients are also eligible to apply for Tier 2 or Tier 3 compensation.
- Tier 2: Women who choose to share additional information about their experience(s) with Dr. Heaps may be eligible to receive an additional payment of $10,000, for a total of $12,500. Each Tier 2 claim will be reviewed by an impartial, three-person panel that includes a court-appointed special master, a forensic psychologist/psychiatrist and an OB-GYN.
- Tier 3: Victims who wish to provide further evidence will be interviewed by a member of the special master’s team about their experience. Submitting a Tier 3 Claim is optional, and those who participate may be eligible for a total payment between $12,500 and $250,000. An additional $5 million will be set aside for certain claimants within Tier 3, and the panel can make awards in excess of $250,000 in the most serious cases.
Class Action Settlement - Changes to Business Practices
In addition to the compensation provided to class members, the settlement provides that UCLA will implement stronger oversight procedures for identification, prevention and reporting of sexual misconduct including:
- Implementing a new investigation model for sexual harassment/sexual assault;
- Improving chaperone policies that, among other things, require annual training;
- Notifying patients of reporting options;
- Providing training for UCLA medical facilities personnel on provider-patient boundaries and on conducting sensitive examinations;
- Enhanced due diligence during the credentialing and re-credentialing process and in connection with UCLA Health’s acquisition of a physician or group practice;
- Appointment of a compliance monitor to facilitate, oversee and evaluate implementation of these institutional changes.
Case Background: Accusations of Sexual Misconduct Committed by UCLA Doctor, James Heaps
Dr. James Heaps was arrested in June 2019 and indicted on two counts of sexual battery and one count of sexual exploitation by a physician. It was reported by CBS News that more than 115 women had come forward with concerns about their interactions with Dr. Heaps.
New York Times reported that the investigation into Dr. Heaps’ past behavior was prompted by accusations of sexual assault by two patients who received care at a UCLA Health facility in 2017 and 2018. After the investigation started, the university discovered another allegation of sexual misconduct by an anonymous UCLA student in 2015, according to NYT. A fourth accusation of sexual misconduct against Dr. Heaps was discovered in February 2019, reports NYT.
Lawsuit: UCLA Failed to Inform Women of Sexual Misconduct; Breached its Duty to Patients
UCLA allegedly received complaints about Heaps in 2014, 2015, and 2016. However, UCLA failed to inform Heaps’ patients of his alleged misconduct and continued to allow him to see patients during its internal investigation.
The lawsuit alleges, among other things, that UCLA breached its duties to Plaintiffs and other women by keeping Heaps on staff after receiving several complaints about his behavior, investigating these complaints, and even after the Medical Board of California conducted an investigation in 2014.
Anyone with questions about the UCLA Dr. Heaps class action settlement should reach out to the Settlement Administrator at info@UCLAHeapsSettlement.com or 1-888-921-0726.
Our Sexual Assault Attorneys
Gibbs Law Group is a California-based law firm committed to protecting the rights of clients nationwide who have been harmed by corporate misconduct. We represent individuals, whistleblowers, employees, and small businesses across the U.S. against the world’s largest corporations. Our award-winning lawyers have achieved landmark recoveries and over a billion dollars for our clients in high-stakes class action and individual cases involving consumer protection, data breach, digital privacy, and federal and California employment lawsuits. Our attorneys have received numerous honors for their work, including “Top Plaintiff Lawyers in California,” “Top Class Action Attorneys Under 40,” “Consumer Protection MVP,” “Best Lawyers in America,” and “Top Cybersecurity/ Privacy Attorneys Under 40.”
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