$240 Million Proposed Settlement Reached in USC Gynecologist Sexual Abuse Class Action
LOS ANGELES – Today, hundreds of current and former students of the University of Southern California reached a $240 million proposed settlement in a class-action lawsuit against the university and its former gynecologist, Dr. George Tyndall, for his alleged decades-long sexual abuse of his patients that persisted despite USC’s knowledge, according to Hagens Berman.
The class-action lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California details sexual abuse and violations of Dr. Tyndall, who subjected his patients to inappropriate touching, unnecessary penetration with his hands, lewd comments, photographing, and other acts of sexual harassment. The university knew of his behavior since at least the 1990s, according to the complaint.
“Many of the hundreds of women who have stepped forward to speak up about what happened to them at USC felt powerless against the university and Dr. Tyndall. This proposed settlement not only brings meaningful relief to this class of USC graduates and students, but stands as a testament both to the strength of these women, coming forward to tell their truth, and to the ability of class actions to create real positive impact for those who have suffered,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and attorney representing the class of USC alumnae. “We are pleased that this proposed settlement will bring meaningful recovery to this class of women, without intensive litigation and discovery directed at the victims, and provides a relatively simple process to have their cases evaluated by a Special Master.”
Hagens Berman’s client, Meggie Kwait issued the following statement regarding the proposed settlement: “Over the course of this lawsuit, I heard the stories of hundreds of other USC students and alumnae who experienced violation, humiliation, and abuse. We were trapped in a system that robbed us of our safety, our dignity, and even our voices – in the very place that should have been teaching us to stand and speak our truth. This settlement is for me, my classmates, my mentors, my students, and for all my sisters in the Trojan family. In isolation, I felt powerless. With this class action, and with the #MeToo movement, I found my strength – and my voice.”
Ms. Kwait is 31 years old and an educator in New York. She currently teaches middle school in a New York City private school, and she is pursuing a master's degree in international relations. In her lifetime, she’s worked as a professional singer, served as a member of the clergy in three countries, and taught in public and private schools in both English and Spanish. Meggie has degrees in British history and opera performance, and she studied at a top 10 law school and in a prestigious rabbinical school before redirecting her path toward education.
Under the stipulations of the proposed settlement, there exist three tiers of claims available to class members:
- Tier 1: Each Settlement Class member, who can be identified through existing health center records, or who submits credible evidence of being a patient of Dr. Tyndall at the USC student health center for the period from July 14, 1997 through June 21, 2016, will be mailed a Claim Award in the form of a check for $2,500.
- Tier 2: Each Settlement Class member has the option to submit an online or written claim form (the “Claim Form”) describing her experience, the impact to her, and/or the damages she suffered. That Claim Form will be reviewed by a Court-appointed Special Master. If the Special Master determines that the Claim Form is credible, and that the conduct or statement(s) described fall outside the scope of accepted medical standards of care applicable during the relevant time, or that the conduct or statements are determined to otherwise be actionable, the claimant shall receive a Claim Award of no less than $7,500 and up to no more than $20,000.
- Tier 3: Tier 3 is reserved for those Settlement Class members who desire to provide further evidence of conduct by or statement(s) from Dr. Tyndall and their impact. Each Settlement Class member who submits a Tier 3 claim will be interviewed by a forensic psychologist, or her team, or other experts, regarding the Settlement Class member’s experience and its impact on her. The expert will provide an assessment to the Special Master. Based on all information, the Special Master will determine whether the Claim Form is credible, the conduct or statement(s) described fall outside the scope of accepted medical standards of care applicable during the relevant time, or the conduct or statements were otherwise actionable, and based on an assessment of the emotional distress and/or bodily injury to the claimant, the Special Master will recommend a Claim Award of no less than $7,500 and no more than $250,000.
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About Hagens Berman
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law firm with 10 offices across the country. The firm’s tenacious drive for plaintiffs’ rights has earned it numerous national accolades, awards and titles of “Most Feared Plaintiff’s Firm,” and MVPs and Trailblazers of class-action law. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at https://www.hbsslaw.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.