A federal judge in Los Angeles Monday granted final approval of a $215 million class-action settlement between USC and some of the women who claim they were sexually abused by George Tyndall, the former longtime USC campus gynecologist accused of misconduct by scores of ex-patients.
The settlement provides all class members — about 17,000 former patients who received women’s health services from Tyndall — compensation of $2,500 and up. Patients who are willing to provide further details about their experience could be eligible for additional compensation up to $250,000.
U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson said he was inclined to approve the hiring of Irma E. Gonzalez, a retired judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, as special master to oversee the money awards.
“We are pleased with the court’s decision to order final approval of the federal class-action settlement,” USC said in a statement. “This settlement provides respectful and confidential relief to Tyndall patients at the student health center and formalizes a broad array of campus reforms.”
To calculate patient awards, the special master will work with a committee of experts in gynecology and psychology, Wilson said.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys Steve Berman, Annika Martin and Daniel Girard issued a joint statement also hailing the advance of the settlement.
“We are pleased that Judge Wilson indicated that he intends to approve this historic settlement that will finally provide a measure of closure to thousands of survivors,” they said. “We are proud to have found alongside them to forge a settlement that holds USC accountable and mandates groundbreaking reforms to prevent these types of abuses from ever occurring again.”
Tyndall and USC have also been sued in state court by about 600 alleged victims, many of whom claim they were inappropriately fondled or photographed by Tyndall under the guise of gynecological exams. Many have also accused him of making sexually charged comments during the exams.
Alleged victims have contended that the university received numerous complaints of Tyndall’s alleged sexually abusive behavior dating back to at least 1988, and actively and deliberately concealed Tyndall’s actions. Attorneys for some victims have argued that following an internal investigation of complaints against Tyndall in 2016, the university paid Tyndall a substantial financial settlement so he would quietly resign three years ago.
USC officials have denied any cover-up, and Tyndall has denied any wrongdoing.
Tyndall is also facing criminal charges alleging he sexually abused 16 patients at the campus clinic where he practiced for decades. He pleaded not guilty in July to 29 felony counts in Los Angeles Superior Court.
USC has said it has put new protocols in place at its Student Health Center to ensure any complaints are investigated and resolved by appropriate university officials and authorities. Additionally, the university said it has hired female, board-certified physicians and introduced patient education materials about sensitive examinations.