Update: On February 12, 2019, University of Southern California (USC) students and alumni filed a class action settlement agreement resolving claims related to gynecologist George Tyndall, M.D. that will require USC to adopt and implement procedures for identification, prevention, and reporting of sexual and racial misconduct, as well as recognize all of Tyndall’s patients through a $215 million fund that gives every survivor a choice in how to participate.
On October 19, 2018, the settlement was originally announced by the University of Southern California whereunder it agreed to pay $215 million to resolve the proposed class action accusing former staff gynecologist George Tyndall of sexually abusing potentially thousands of women while they were students at USC.
The case will be settled as a class action, subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, on the basis of a class defined to include “all current or former female students who were seen for treatment by Dr. George M. Tyndall at USC’s student health center for women’s health issues.”
The settlement proposes a tiered structure for recovery that allows victims to choose the level of engagement they wish to have with the claims process and how they wish to communicate their stories. All women who USC’s records show saw Tyndall for a women’s health visit will automatically get a $2,500 check. In part, the automatic payments represent compensation for their school knowingly putting them at risk and in harm’s way by harboring and protecting Tyndall long after they knew he was acting inappropriately with student-patients, and continuing to grant him exclusive access and opportunity to abuse female student-patients.
Additionally, the claim process has two tiers of recovery above the baseline $2,500 Tier One amount. The Tiers are structured around allowing victims to choose their level of engagement with the process – if they only want to submit claims in writing, they can choose that, which allows them a certain range of potential claim payments above the 2,500 floor; if they are willing and able to provide an interview, they can be eligible for a range up to the highest $250,000 amount. But at all levels, it is about allowing victims a safe process in which to come forward, where they have control over how much they want to engage in the process and what they feel comfortable with.
History of the Case
On June 5, 2018, Lieff Cabraser and co-counsel filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of women who were sexually abused, harassed, and molested by gynecologist George Tyndall, M.D., while they were students at University of Southern California (“USC”).
While attending USC as a student, the representative Plaintiff—who is named only as Jane Doe 1 to protect her privacy—was forced to repeatedly seek medical treatment from Tyndall, who was the only full-time gynecologist on staff at USC’s Student Health Clinic. The lawsuit alleges Tyndall used this position of trust and authority to repeatedly sexually abuse the Plaintiff and potentially thousands of other class members, women who were examined by Dr. Tyndall at USC. Read a copy of the Class Action Complaint.
Nature of the Case
Plaintiff and the class members are or were female students attending USC who sought gynecological care through the USC student health system and were patients of Tyndall during his tenure at USC. Plaintiff and other members of the Class had no reason to suspect Tyndall was anything other than a competent and ethical physician. Knowing that Plaintiff and other class members were trusting and vulnerable – and in many cases still teenagers who had never visited a gynecologist before – Tyndall used his position of authority to make Plaintiff and other victims fully disrobe for no reasonable medical purpose, then fondled and groped their breasts and other intimate areas while making suggestive and improper comments, used his fingers to penetrate their vaginas and genital regions for the purpose of his own sexual arousal and gratification, and engaged in verbal discussions about inappropriate sexual topics, for no legitimate medical purpose and for no other reason than to satisfy his own prurient sexual desires. Tyndall also made racially discriminatory and sexually harassing comments.
Through his employment with USC, Tyndall also used his position of authority as a medical professional to take hundreds of nonconsensual and medically unwarranted photographs of female genitalia under the guise of medical “treatment.” Tyndall particularly targeted young students, many of whom were foreign students, and who were frequently unfamiliar with the nature of gynecological examinations as a result of their youth, inexperience, and/or cultural background. Many of these young women did not know that what Tyndall was doing during the examinations was not proper protocol and did not realize he was engaging in sexual misconduct, sexually violating them, and taking advantage of them.
As alleged in the complaint, despite the fact that USC has publicly admitted that it received numerous complaints of Tyndall’s sexually abusive behavior, dating back to at least the year 2000, USC actively and deliberately concealed Tyndall’s sexual abuse for years, continuing to grant Tyndall unfettered sexual access to the female USC students in his care.
USC hid the complaints despite the fact that many of the complaints came directly from its own employees and staff, including nurses and medical assistants who were physically present during the examinations as “chaperones,” and witnessed the sexual misconduct firsthand. Despite receiving years of serious complaints of significant misconduct about Tyndall, including sexual misconduct, USC failed to take any meaningful action to address the complaints until it was finally forced to do so in June 2016.
Charges Against Tyndall and USC
The suit has been filed against Dr. Tyndall and USC over charges including gender violence, sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual harassment, negligence, negligent hiring, negligent supervision, negligent failure to warn, train, or educate, and wanton and reckless conduct relating to the gynecological medical treatment received by the Plaintiff and the class while they were students at USC.
Contact a Sexual Abuse Lawyer at Lieff Cabraser
Lieff Cabraser partner Annika K. Martin, herself an alumnus of USC’s law school, is leading the litigation for our firm on behalf of women who suffered violence, abuse, and harassment by George Tyndall and USC. You can contact Annika by telephone at 415 956-1000 or you can use the confidential form below. There is no charge or obligation for your outreach, and all information will be held in the strictest confidence.