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In the News: Northern California

News and notes from lawyers in Northern California

In the News: Northern California
Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers

October 22, 2019 02:00 PM

Class-Action Lawsuit Builds Against Former UCLA Gynecologist After Sexual Assault Allegations


Wendel Rosen: Tracy Green (Litigation-Bankruptcy, 2018) is defending Dr. James Heaps from accusations of inappropriate comments and sexual assault made by several women during his time as UCLA Health Gynecologist.

In March of 2019, it was reported that UCLA had settled with an unknown number of the accusers. As part of the settlement the University will assume no liability for the allegations that were made.

Green maintains her clients’ innocence despite the settlement from the University of California Los Angeles. She has stated that Heaps had no input on the University’s decision and that he did not harass or create a hostile work environment against a nurse practitioner, who is among the accusers. Furthermore, Green said that some of the women may have confused a standard pelvic and clinical breast exams with inappropriate behavior. “Many of the allegations in the civil lawsuit are claiming that standard medical exams are misconduct or sexual,” Green said in an email to KTLA.

UCLA initiated an investigation in late 2017 after a patient filed a complaint that Heaps touched her for non-medical reasons. The investigation found that Heaps had violated University policy and that he had also retaliated against a colleague during the investigation. According to Green, Heaps voiced his displeasure and his personal opinions about the investigation to the colleague. By reaching out to the colleague, that was a violation of Title IX investigation rules, something Green said he was not aware of.

Heaps had completed Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence Prevention Training in 2014 and 2016 in accordance with university policy. He was told by the university that his contract would not be renewed in early 2018.

Heaps is also facing criminal charges of sexual battery. On July 30, the Los Angeles Superior Court suspended Heaps’ medical license pending the result of the criminal case.

Headlines:

Law office of Gilbert Eisenberg - Gilbert Eisenberg (Criminal Defense – General Practice, Criminal Defense - White Collar 2012) represented 22-year-old Aneth Sandoval who advertised “hella illegal guns” for sale in Oakland and San Leandro. After pleading guilty, Sandoval received a five-year federal prison sentence and her co-defendant, David Shahbazpour was sentenced to four years in a federal prison. Federal prosecutors said the two sold eight guns over a two-month period in 2018. “She desperately needed money and respite from worrying about where she could get money. She was increasingly suicidal and self-destructive. It is very important to note that adolescents and young adults often manifest their depression as anger and acting out,” Eisenberg wrote at sentencing.

Law Offices of Amitai Schwartz : Amitai Schwartz (Administrative/ Regulatory Law, Appellate Law, 2013) represented California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform and an unnamed patient during an appeal regarding end-of-life decisions for mentally incompetent residents of the state. The appellate court ruled that physicians could administer psychiatric medications so long as there was input from family members and an independent representative. “The Court has required nursing homes to provide more due process to critical medical decisions affecting these infirm and otherwise powerless patients, including the administration of psychotropic drugs and decisions surrounding the end of life,” said Amitai Schwartz. A 2016 court ruling threatened a 1992 law allowing physicians authority over residents. The clarification from the appellate court stipulated that an independent representative must be made available for any resident “determined to be decisionally incapacitated.”

Honorable Mention:

Dolan Law Firm: Christopher Dolan (Employment Law - Individuals, Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs, Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs, 2014) authored an opinion article addressing concerns of a mother whose child is being cyberbullied. According to Dolan, California recognizes bullying as a form of violence, and under the state’s Safe Place to Learn and Safety Demonstration Acts, educators have a duty to intervene with all forms of bullying. He notes that any school employee must report said activity to the principal who can inform the student of their right to file a formal complaint. The principal can begin a procedure that is as simple as mediation after speaking with all involved parties all the way to contacting the social media site to have the offending material removed and the abuser’s privileges on the site revoked.

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