USC announced Friday the university has agreed in principle to a $215 million class-action settlement with women who claim they were sexually abused by Dr. George Tyndall, the former campus gynecologist accused of misconduct by scores of ex-patients.
“Our Board of Trustees supports this settlement, which was reached in collaboration with plaintiffs’ counsel, and which will provide relief to those who have been impacted by this difficult experience,” USC Interim President Wanda Austin said in a prepared statement. “By doing so, we hope that we can help our community move collectively toward reconciliation. I regret that any student ever felt uncomfortable, unsafe, or mistreated in any way as a result of the actions of a university employee.”
The settlement, which still needs to be approved by a federal judge, provides all class members — former patients who received women’s health services from Tyndall — compensation of $2,500. Patients who are willing to provide further details about their experience could be eligible for additional compensation up to $250,000.
“Following the expected court approval, all class members will be sent a notice of their options under the settlement in the coming months,” Austin said.
Tyndall and USC have been sued by hundreds of alleged victims, many of whom claim they were inappropriately fondled or photographed by Tyndall under the guise of gynecological exams. Many have also accused him of making sexually charged comments during the exams.
“A fair and respectful resolution for as many former patients as possible has been a priority for the university and for me personally since I began serving in the role of interim president,” Austin said. “Many sweeping changes have been made and we continue to work every day to prevent all forms of misconduct on our campuses, to provide outstanding care to all students.
“Today’s announcement is an important step forward, but it is only the beginning of our journey. We care deeply about our community, we are listening carefully, learning from these experiences and strengthening our university.”
Although the proposed settlement covers only a federal class-action case, the Los Angeles Times reported that plaintiffs in state court cases will be able to opt in. According to the paper, a total of 463 women have sued the university over the Tyndall allegations.
Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents some of Tyndall’s alleged victims, said the $2,500 being proposed for individual women is “way too minimal.”
“In our opinion, for what some of the victims went through, this is a nuisances amount and may not properly compensate victims for what some of them have suffered,” Allred said. “We are continuing to vigorously litigate our state cases for numerous victims and we will insist that each of our clients be properly compensated for what they were forced to endure, which for many of our clients is expected to be far in excess of what individuals in the class action will receive.”
The law firm of Manly, Stewart and Finaldi, which represents dozens of women allegedly abused by Tyndall, noted that its clients are not bound by the “paltry” settlement announced Friday.
“It’s noting more than a ruse by USC to pay pennies on the dollar of the true value of these cases without being held accountable for its role in enabling Tyndall’s abuse,” according to a statement from the firm. “To be clear, this settlement is an embarrassment, an insult to survivors and only serves to cover up the actions of USC administrators and staff and perpetuate this type of abuse.”
The firm on Thursday announced the filing of 93 more lawsuits accusing the university of ignoring complaints about the now-former campus doctor for years.
Attorney John Manly, joined by more than a dozen alleged victims of Tyndall, also called on the state Attorney General’s Office to conduct an investigation into the university’s handling of complaints about the doctor’s conduct.
Alleged victims have contended that the university received numerous complaints of Tyndall’s alleged sexually abusive behavior dating back to at least 1988, and actively and deliberately concealed Tyndall’s actions. Attorneys for some victims have argued that following an internal investigation of complaints against Tyndall in 2016, the university paid Tyndall a substantial financial settlement so he would quietly resign last year.
USC officials have denied any coverup, and Tyndall has denied any wrongdoing.
Rick Caruso, chairman of the USC Board of Trustees, said Friday that resolving the lawsuits has been a top concern.
“When I became chair of the board last May, I pledged that the university would treat anyone impacted by this experience with dignity and respect including, and most importantly, instructing our team to resolve this litigation as thoughtfully and fairly as possible,” he said. “While we cannot change the past, it is my sincere hope that this timely settlement provides some measure of relief to those impacted and their families.”
The District Attorney’s Office is reviewing allegations against Tyndall, but so far he has not been charged with a crime. He has insisted that he never did anything wrong, and all of his actions during exams were within the standards of medical care.
— City News Service
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