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UC Board of Regents to pay $374 million in settlement against James Heaps

Former UCLA OB-GYN James Heaps (center) sits in court for a criminal proceeding April 22 regarding felony counts of sexual assault. The University of California Board of Regents recently agreed to settle with hundreds of plaintiffs in civil lawsuits for $374.4 million. (David Rimer/Assistant Photo editor)

By Maanas Hemanth Oruganti

May 24, 2022 3:27 p.m.

This post was updated May 25 at 10:49 p.m.

The University of California Board of Regents agreed to a settlement of more than $370 million with hundreds of plaintiffs in sexual assault and misconduct civil lawsuits against former UCLA OB-GYN James Heaps.

The UC Board of Regents agreed to settle for $374.4 million, covering 312 plaintiffs who alleged Heaps abused them during medical examinations, according to a press release from McGrath Kavinoky LLP, the firm representing the plaintiffs.

UCLA Health spokesperson Phil Hampton said in an emailed statement that the UC systemwide insurance and risk financing program will cover the settlement, with UCLA Health and campus operating revenue supplementing funding as necessary.

According to the Los Angeles Times, this latest settlement raised the total litigation costs to nearly $700 million, which is the highest amount ever paid in sexual assault cases related to a public university.

Heaps worked at UCLA Health from 2014 to 2018. In May 2021, a grand jury indicted him on 21 counts of felony sexual assault. Hundreds of plaintiffs, including the 312, have accused him in civil cases.

On Jan. 11, a federal court preliminarily approved a class-action settlement of $73 million, though hundreds of women opted out and planned to pursue individual suits in March.

On Feb. 8, the UC Board of Regents reached a settlement of $243.6 million with more than 200 plaintiffs in sexual assault and misconduct lawsuits against Heaps.

“This settlement is a victory for all survivors of ‘white coat’ sexual abuse who are afraid to speak out against perpetrators backed by powerful organizations,” said Darren Kavinoky, partner at McGrath Kavinoky LLP and a representative of the plaintiffs, in the press release.

Hampton said in the emailed statement that both UCLA Health and the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center, in accordance with UC directives, have implemented policy changes such as increasing the presence of chaperones during sensitive medical procedures, improving patient feedback pipelines and expanding sexual harassment training for employees.

“We are dedicated to providing the highest quality care that respects the dignity of every patient. We are taking all necessary steps to ensure our patients’ well-being in order to maintain the public’s confidence and trust,” Hampton said.

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Maanas Hemanth Oruganti | News senior staff
Oruganti is the city and crime editor. He was also the 2020-2021 Enterprise editor and a News staff writer in the City & Crime and Science & Health beats 2020. He is also a fourth-year cognitive science student at UCLA.
Oruganti is the city and crime editor. He was also the 2020-2021 Enterprise editor and a News staff writer in the City & Crime and Science & Health beats 2020. He is also a fourth-year cognitive science student at UCLA.
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