USC announced Oct. 19 that it has reached an “agreement in principle” to pay $215 million to patients treated by longtime campus gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall who has been accused of abusing and sexually harassing scores of young women. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, this would provide at least $2,500 to each student who saw Tyndall at the campus health clinic and up to $250,000 to students who accused him of sexually abusing him.
Class Action Settlement
The proposed settlement covers those former patients who joined a federal class action lawsuit. However, the hundreds of claims made in state court have not yet been resolved. Those who sued USC and Tyndall in state court have the option to join this settlement or continue their litigation. So far, at least 463 former patients have sued USC over this matter.
The judge handling the class action claims has not yet reviewed or approved the agreement. The LA Times has reported that an internal USC investigation concluded Tyndall’s behavior while performing pelvic exams was outside the scope of current medical practice and amounted to sexual harassment. However, the university cut a secret deal allowing Tyndall to quietly resign with an undisclosed financial settlement. No criminal charges have been filed against the doctor.
USC is not the only university in the nation that is facing the prospect of having to make large monetary payouts over sexual misconduct by their staff. In May, Michigan State reached a $500 million settlement with hundreds of women who said sports doctor Larry Nassar sexually assaulted them. And Penn State has paid out more than $100 million in sex abuse cases involving assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Justice for Victims
This class action settlement appears only to be the tip of the iceberg in this complex case involving hundreds of women who allege they were sexually abused or harassed by the USC doctor. We hope these plaintiffs get their day in court as well as the opportunity to be heard.
The class action attorneys at Bisnar Chase trust this case and others around the country will result in creating more stringent procedures, requirements and codes particularly for gynecologists. For example, rules regarding having chaperones present during an intimate physical exam for men and women should be properly established so there are no grey areas. We also hope that these cases pave the way for a better system for patients to register their complaints about sexual harassment or abuse in a medical setting.