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USC says it's tentatively agreed to $215M settlement over gynecologist misconduct claims

The University of Southern California said Friday it has "reached agreement in principle" on a $215 million ...

Posted: Oct 20, 2018 3:24 PM
Updated: Oct 20, 2018 3:24 PM

The University of Southern California said Friday it has "reached agreement in principle" on a $215 million class-action settlement after dozens of students filed lawsuits accusing former campus gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall of sexually abusing them.

The settlement would provide at least $2,500 to "all class members" -- patients who received women's health services from Tyndall -- interim USC President Wanda Austin said in a statement released Friday.

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"Patients who are willing to provide further details about their experience could be eligible for additional compensation up to $250,000," Austin's statement reads.

The proposed settlement was "reached with plaintiffs' counsel," Austin said.

Tyndall served as a gynecologist at the university student health center for nearly 30 years until he was fired in 2017. He has denied any wrongdoing. He is being investigated by law enforcement authorities but has not been charged with any crime.

Who does the settlement cover?

According to attorneys that have filed state actions, the settlement applies only to the federal class-action cases. USC does not specify which cases are covered.

Gloria Allred, a lawyer for some of the women, called the payments of $2,500 per plaintiff as "way too minimal." She said the settlement applied only to the federal class-action cases and her office will continue to litigate state court lawsuits involving the university and Tyndall.

Tara Lee, a USC lawyer, said it will be at least 30 days before the two sides iron out the particulars of how the agreement will work and then present an agreement to federal Judge Stephen Wilson.

Lee says there is a potential of as many as 17,000 members of the class for this federal suit.

On Thursday, a plaintiffs' attorney said 93 additional women had come forward to accuse Tyndall of sexual misconduct in two new lawsuits.

Former, current students filed suit

The former and current USC students sued him and the university in lawsuits that first became public in May, accusing the doctor of sexual misconduct and using inappropriate language.

Some of the women alleged Tyndall conducted pelvic examinations without gloves and made racial and sexual comments while examining them.

Last July, one of his lawyers, Leonard Levine, said the examinations were for medical purposes and "consistent with the standard of care for such examinations."

CNN tried unsuccessfully to reach Levine for comment about the settlement on Friday.

USC president stepped down

Tyndall was was dismissed in 2017 for inappropriate behavior, according to USC.

University officials said the school reached a settlement with the doctor and did not report him to law enforcement or state medical authorities at the time.

The scandal led to the May resignation of school President C.L. Max Nikias. Thousands of students and alumni had signed an online petition demanding he resign.

Austin, a university board member who had served as president and CEO of the Aerospace Corp., was named interim president.

"I regret that any student ever felt uncomfortable, unsafe or mistreated in any way as a result of the actions of a university employee," Austin said, according to the statement released Friday.

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