$374 million settlement in abuse lawsuits against former UCLA gynecologist James Heaps

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Legal damages from sexual misconduct allegations by a former UCLA gynecologist continued to mount Tuesday as attorneys for 312 former patients settled a $374 million abuse lawsuit against the University of California announced.

The settlement of cases involving former campus gynecologist James Heaps comes on top of a $243.6 million settlement of lawsuits involving about 200 patients, announced in February, and a federal lawsuit settlement $73 million reached last year involving approximately 5,500 plaintiffs.

Heaps was a UCLA gynecologist/oncologist for almost 35 years. At various times, he saw patients at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and in his office at 100 Medical Plaza.

At one time, Heaps was reportedly the highest-paid doctor in the UC system and had treated about 6,000 patients, attorneys said.

More than 500 lawsuits have been filed against Heaps and UCLA, accusing the school of failing to protect patients after learning of the wrongdoing.

The lawsuits alleged that UCLA actively and intentionally concealed Heaps’ sexual abuse of patients. UCLA continued to allow Heaps unhindered sexual access to female patients — many of whom were cancer patients — at the university, attorneys for the plaintiffs in the lawsuits alleged.

READ MORE: Ex-UCLA gynecologist now faces 20 charges over alleged sexual assault of 7 patients

UCLA issued a statement Tuesday, saying, “This agreement, combined with previous settlements involving other plaintiffs, resolves the vast majority of allegations alleging sexual misconduct by James Heaps, a former UCLA medical doctor, reproach. Heaps’ Alleged Conduct Is Reprehensible We are grateful to all those who have come forward and hope this settlement is a step towards some healing for the plaintiffs affected.

“We strive to provide the highest quality of care that respects the dignity of each patient. We are taking all necessary steps to ensure the well-being of our patients and maintain public trust.”

The university outlined a number of measures to strengthen student and patient safety. It also noted that the settlement “will have no impact on UCLA’s teaching, research and service, including patient care, student life and campus activities.” It is covered by UC’s system-wide insurance and risk financing program. Any additional resources required will be provided by UCLA operating income from health and campus.”

Heaps faces 21 counts of sexual abuse in state court in a criminal case in which he is accused of sexually assaulting seven women. He faces more than 67 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

The settlement of the federal case last year required UCLA to ensure stricter oversight procedures for identifying, preventing and reporting sexual misconduct.

The federal lawsuits allege that while patients complained about Heaps years earlier, it wasn’t until late 2017 that allegations of sexual misconduct by the gynecologist were reported to UCLA’s Title IX office and a formal investigation initiated.

Heaps was still allowed to see patients – both during the investigation and after UCLA informed Heaps that his contract would not be renewed after the June 30, 2018 expiration.

UCLA terminated Heaps’ employment and notified law enforcement of the allegations against him on June 14, 2018.

In June 2019, Heaps was arrested and charged with multiple sexual assaults. After his arrest, many more women came forward to report alleged sexual misconduct. In August 2020, Heaps was charged with additional crimes.

In March 2021, USC agreed to pay more than $1.1 billion to former patients of ex-campus gynecologist George Tyndall in a similar case
largest payout for sexual abuse in the history of higher education

Tyndall — the only full-time gynecologist at the college hospital from 1989 to 2016 — has pleaded not guilty to dozens of sexual assault charges.

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https://abc7.com/ucla-gynecologist-374-million-settlement/11889899/ $374 million settlement in abuse lawsuits against former UCLA gynecologist James Heaps

Laura Coffey

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