Former Tyndall students in class action will start to receive payouts.
George Tyndall, former University of Southern California (USC) gynecologist, has been accused by hundreds of former female students of sexual harassment and abuse, and U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson, appointed by Ronald Reagan, in Los Angeles said he would give final approval to USC’s landmark $215-million class action settlement with Tyndall’s patients. The decision would allow the university to start issuing payouts to the nearly 18,000 women involved. In addition to the $215 million, USC has agreed to pay up to $25 million in legal fees and other costs associated with the class action.
USC’s mishandling of Tyndall led to a Department of Education probe and prompted more than 600 plaintiffs to file state court lawsuits. USC quietly let the doctor go without reporting his misconduct. Yet, experts reviewing unsealed documents concluded that Tyndall’s pelvic exams were inappropriate and not within medical standards, and that he had “unusual and potentially dangerous opinions about breast exams.”
For the federal settlement, there is a granted payout minimum of $2,500 to all women who saw the gynecologist during their time at the school, regardless of whether they formally accused Tyndall of harassment or assault. If women choose to confidentially detail their allegations they could get as much as $250,000, according to documents. A mental health professional, gynecologist, and federal judge will serve as a three-judge panel to determine how the money will be allocated.
USC administers said they were “pleased with the court’s decision.” In a statement, the university responded, “This settlement provides respectful and confidential relief to Tyndall patients at the student health center and formalizes a broad array of campus reforms.”
In an earlier statement, the university it will seek “a prompt and fair resolution that is respectful of our former students” in the federal case. The university has denied allegations of a cover-up, however. Mike Arias, an attorney who is helping to lead the state court lawsuits, said, “At the end of the day, this was a tool used by USC to limit the number of overall claims. USC accomplished what it wanted to accomplish.”
Annika Martin, one of the lead attorneys representing women, said, “We tried very hard to get this right. It looks like something that many class members found to be a safe way to stand up and be counted and hold the school accountable.”
Under the approved terms, Tyndall, who recently 73, will not contribute to the payout nor will he admit any wrongdoing even though he has been charged by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office with 29 felony sexual abuse and misconduct counts with 16 patients. The university will issue the funds.
Settlement notices went to 150,000 former female students who attended USC from 1989 to 2016 and who were identified as potential class members. An estimated d800 people opted out of the settlement, according to court records. Approximately 600 separate lawsuits have been filed in state courts and these have not yet been resolved. They are still in the discovery phase, and there is no word yet when are expected to reach a resolution.