USC Patients Of George Tyndall Would Get At Least $2,500 Each In New Settlement
The University of Southern California has reached a tentative settlement amounting to $215 million over accusations that former gynecologist George Tyndall sexually abused his female patients.
The settlement, which was announced on the university's website on Friday, addresses a federal class action lawsuit involving patients who received women's health services from Tyndall while he was working at USC's student health center.
Tyndall still faces a criminal investigation over accusations that he carried out improper pelvic examinations, took unnecessary photos of women during exams and made sexually suggestive statements to women during their exams.
"I regret that any student ever felt uncomfortable, unsafe, or mistreated in any way as a result of the actions of a university employee," USC interim president Wanda Austin said in a statement.
As a baseline, the settlement provides former patients compensation of $2,500. But patients who are willing to provide more details about their experiences with Tyndall could receive up to $250,000.
The university will be sending out notices to all class members notifying them of their options under the settlement "in the coming months."
It provided information on the following settlement tiers:
Tier 1: Individuals treated for women's health issues by Dr. Tyndall will receive compensation of $2,500. This tier does not require any additional information about the patient's experience.
Tier 2: Allows patients of Dr. Tyndall the option to seek additional compensation of $7,500 to $20,000 by submitting a written claim form detailing their experience of Dr. Tyndall's conduct, the personal impact on the patient, and any injury they wish to be considered.
Tier 3: Allows patients of Dr. Tyndall the option to seek additional compensation of $7,500 to $250,000 by submitting a written claim form documenting their experience of Dr. Tyndall's conduct, personal impact, and any injury they wish to be considered. In addition, these claimants will also be required to provide information during a respectful, private interview by a licensed psychologist.
Some of the women suing USC over alleged sexual abuse say they won't join the settlement, arguing that it doesn't offer enough compensation. But others are ready to sign up.
Steve Berman, one of the lawyers who helped negotiate the settlement for the plaintiffs, said some of his clients like that they won't have to produce documents, testify about their sex lives or go through a lengthy trial to receive a payout.
"A lot of victims of sexual abuse don't want to come forward," he said. "They're either embarrassed or don't want to go through the normal litigation process, which can be very time consuming and very intrusive."
Meggie Kwait, one of Berman's clients, is signing on to the settlement. She said she's emotionally scarred by the pelvic exam Tyndall performed on her a decade ago.
"I wanted the process to be over as quickly as possible," she said. "I don't feel like I can spend another year of my life looking at George Tyndall's face or thinking about USC or [having] people ask me how the lawsuit's going."
USC "may be getting away with paying less to settle these claims, precisely because of the nature of the harm itself, that it's the kind of thing that [victims] just don't want to have to relive if they don't have to," said David Marcus, a law professor at UCLA.
Kwait said she supports women who decide not to join the settlement so they can pursue larger payouts through their own lawsuits.
USC announced the proposed settlement less than six months after it was sued in federal court along with its board of directors and Tyndall. That timeline is raising some eyebrows.
"It's pretty unusual for defendants to agree to a multi-million dollar settlement ... so quickly after the commencement of the lawsuit," said Marcus.
There's very little information generated in court, he said, about the extent to which USC knew about Tyndall's actions.
In the coming months, a federal judge will decide whether the $215 million settlement is fair to all of Tyndall's alleged victims.
The university also said it's continuing to provide free counseling and support services for students who received services from Tyndall.
More information is available at change.usc.edu/settlement.
Anyone with information or concerns about their experiences was directed to call 833-889-8833 or use this website.
Brian Frank and Adolfo Guzman-Lopez contributed to this report.
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