The University of Southern California has agreed in state court to a record-making settlement for patients of the former university gynecologist George Tyndall. Combined with a 2018 federal class-action agreement and several other settlements the amount paid out by the Los Angeles university to federal and state plaintiffs exceeds $1.1 billion.
The settlements, both state and federal, involve thousands of Tyndall’s former patients. The disgraced gynecologist is currently awaiting trial on 35 criminal counts of alleged sexual misconduct that occurred at the university’s student health center from 2009 to 2016. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, Tyndall was allowed to operate for nearly 30 years at USC and the LAPD estimates he may have seen 10,000 patients or more in that time. University officials long had reason to suspect Tyndall but it wasn’t until 2000 that an official complaint about Tyndall alleging sexual abuse and inappropriate behavior was lodged. The university failed to act until they fired him in 2016.
The university’s handling of Tyndall sparked outrage on campus and led to led to the resignation of President C.L. Max Nikias. The current USC president, Carol Folt, was appointed in 2019, shortly after the scandal became public and has been charged to help the university enact a wave of reforms. In a statement regarding the settlement, Folt said, “I am deeply sorry for the pain experienced by the women who trusted him as a physician and appreciate the courage of all who came forward. I do hope this much-needed resolution provides some relief to the women abused by George Tyndal.”
For the survivors the settlement is bittersweet. It is an acknowledgment of the horrible crimes committed by Tyndall and the failure of USC to protect their students. In court, it was revealed that USC began receiving complaints about Tyndall in the ‘90s. Even after years of credible accusations, the university gave Tyndall a secret payout in 2017 and he was allowed to exit with a clean record from the medical board. Tyndall wasn’t officially charged until 2019 and is currently awaiting trial in Los Angeles. His victims now are left with the largest settlement payout in the history of higher education and the cruel disappointment of knowing USC has placed a price tag on the health and safety of their students.
In comparison, this settlement is twice as large as the half a billion dollars won by victims of Lawrence G. Nassar, the Michigan State University physician who also sexually abused young women under the guise of medical treatment. It’s appreciably larger than the settlement over the sex abuse scandal at Penn State and is significantly larger than many of the settlements in child sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.
At USC, the school knowingly allowed a sexual predator to continue to prey on young women and then went so far as to silence complaints regarding Tyndall while he continued to molest victims. $1.1 billion is a stunning admission to how much the institution failed in its duty.
At Saunders & Walker, we have long advocated for the victims of institutional sexual abuse. We realize that there are significant and unique barriers that prevent victims from reporting what they intuitively know is inappropriate behavior. Fear of accusing their abuser, the stigma of being abused, and a reluctance to confront powerful institutions like USC, Penn State, Ohio State, The Boy Scouts of America, or the Roman Catholic Church. We have a long history of representing victims of institutional sexual assault and realize how difficult it may be for them to come forward. George Tyndall victimized and sexually abused young women at the University of Southern California. For almost three decades the school knowingly allowed this predator to continue to prey on innocent victims. This class action settlement is an absolute admission to the pain USC’s neglect caused the very students the institution was obligated to protect. It also sends the message to other institutions of higher learning that, if they fail like USC, they will pay.
If you were ever a victim of sexual harassment or abuse, you are not alone. Please contact Saunders & Walker at 1-800-748-7115 to discuss your legal options. All legal discussions will be strictly confidential and your identity will be protected in any subsequent lawsuit.
Admitted to practice law in all federal multidistrict litigation courts, the California State Bar and the Florida Bar. His philosophy is to provide aggressive, quality representations and seek fair compensation for individuals and their families who have suffered injury, death, or sexual abuse.