USC has reached a $215 million class-action settlement with hundreds of students who had filed a lawsuit alleging they had been sexually abused by a former campus gynecologist.
The settlement announced Oct. 19 came as a result of a federal complaint filed by current and former students who were one-time patients of Dr. George Tyndall, who had worked for decades at USC’s student health center.
Former female patients alleged that Tyndall had subjected them to inappropriate touching, penetration, comments, photography and sexual harassment.
“Our Board of Trustees supports this settlement, which was reached in collaboration with plaintiffs’ council, and which will provide relief to those who have been impacted by this difficult experience,” said Wanda Austin, interim president of USC, in a letter to the campus. “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 provides $2,500 to any patient who had received women’s health services from Tyndall. Patients willing to provide further details about their experience could be eligible for compensation up to $250,000.
The alleged abuse by the former campus gynecologist, in addition to allegations of inappropriate conduct y former medical school Dean Carmen Puliafito had caused USC President Max Mikias to step down Aug. 7. Austin was picked to lead the university pending a nationwide search.
She said that “sweeping changes” have been made to prevent further misconduct.
An attorney representing hundreds of women who had visited Tyndall said the settlement stands as testament to their strength and willingness to come forward.
“We are pleased that this proposed settlement will bring meaningful recovery to this class of women,” without intensive litigation and discovery directed at the victims, and provides a relatively simple process to have their cases evaluated,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, the consumer-rights law firm that represented the women, in a statement.
Health business reporter Dana Bartholomew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @_DanaBart.