$5,850,000 :: Does v. University of California

SETTLEMENT: Our firm represented seven women who were sexually abused and harassed by a UCLA gynecologist

We represented seven women who were sexually abused and harassed by gynecologist James Heaps, who was associated with UCLA for over 30 years as a physician and medical school faculty member.  The university allowed Dr. Heaps to quietly retire in June 2018 while a sexual misconduct investigation was underway, and the public did not learn of his decades-long history of misconduct until a year later.  https://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-edu-ucla-heaps-sexual-misconduct-20190615-story.html   UCLA’s chancellor admitted that the university had failed to act as “promptly or as efficiently as I think we should have” in addressing Dr. Heaps’ criminal acts and alerting his victims.

Our clients were among over 500 women who filed suit against UCLA and Dr. Heaps.  Those cases got a big boost in 2020 when the Governor signed into law AB 3092, which added a new subsection to Code of Civil Procedure section 340.16 (the law governing the statute of limitations in sexual assault cases when the victim is an adult).  The new provision specifically revived sexual assault claims against UCLA that otherwise would have been barred and gave victims until the end of 2021 to file such claims.

Depostions in the UCLA cases revealed that Dr. Heaps’ propensity to sexually abuse and harass women, including patients and staff, was well known to UCLA staff, doctors and management as far back as 1990.  But likely because Dr. Heaps was in high demand as an OB/GYN, and a percentage of the substantial revenue that he brought in went to UCLA, the university took no action against him until 2018.  By then, our clients and hundreds of other women had suffered abuse that left them feeling betrayed, violated and humiliated and has led to long-term depression, anxiety and other issues.