Female USC Students Sue University and Gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall for Decades-Long Sexual Violations

Class-action lawsuit seeks to represent hundreds of Dr. Tyndall’s patients for molestation of female students, and USC’s cover-up

LOS ANGELES – Attorneys from Hagens Berman are representing a proposed class of hundreds, if not thousands, of female students at the University of Southern California (USC) who suffered ­sexual violation at the hands of the university’s full-time gynecologist, Dr. George Tyndall, in a class-action lawsuit filed today against Dr. Tyndall, USC and its board of trustees.

According to recent investigations, Dr. Tyndall sexually harassed, abused, molested and engaged in wildly inappropriate behavior with female students who sought his medical care at USC’s student health clinic. News outlets state Dr. Tyndall oversaw tens of thousands of female patients during his time at USC. The university knew of his behavior since at least the 1990s but failed to take action.

The lawsuit, filed May 21, 2018, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California documents Dr. Tyndall’s misconduct, including complaints from chaperones who reported his behavior, including his common use of a camera during pelvic exams to take multiple pictures of hundreds of patients' genitals, and reports that he unnecessarily digitally penetrated his patients during exams.

If you were in any way violated or treated inappropriately by USC’s Dr. Tyndall during a medical examination, find out more about the lawsuit and your rights. Hagens Berman’s attorneys achieved a nationwide sexual harassment settlement on behalf of 16,000 women and also tried the first ever sexual harassment case in Washington state. The firm represents multiple women on behalf of a class of all victims who were harassed or otherwise assaulted by Harvey Weinstein, seeking to hold him and his co-conspirators accountable for a years-long pattern of sexual harassment and cover-ups.

According to the lawsuit, Dr. Tyndall’s sexual abuse extended to hundreds of female students, but in particular, staff were concerned he was targeting USC’s population of Chinese students, who were unfamiliar with standard gynecological exams, and an especially vulnerable population at USC. The suit states that, in his office, Tyndall had a map of China and encouraged women to point out their home province. He kept a bamboo plant, the traditional Chinese symbol of longevity and vitality, on a shelf above his desk. He sometimes showed off a photo of his Filipina wife and shared details of their relationship.

“USC violated its female students’ trust by knowingly putting women in the room for treatment by Tyndall, knowing that inappropriate physical contact and violations would occur,” the suit states. “In fact, USC nurses, chaperones and other staff members were regularly present in the examination rooms, observed the inappropriate sexual molestation, and took no steps to stop it as it occurred.”

The lawsuit brings various charges against USC, Dr. Tyndall and USC’s board of trustees including violations of Title IX, violation of the California Equity in Higher Education Act, gender violence, gross negligence, civil battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and others.

“For decades, USC has silenced the women who were violated in unspeakable ways by Dr. Tyndall, willfully ignoring the alarming complaints from nurses and patients as more and more students were sent into his office,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman. “Our plaintiff and other women have bravely stepped forward to report these heinous acts, and through this lawsuit, we intend to hold defendants accountable.”

“It’s abundantly clear to anyone that USC should have acted swiftly to put an end to Dr. Tyndall’s inappropriate behavior, and an end to his license to practice, as soon as the school became aware in the 1990s,” Berman added. “Instead, USC chose to cover up Dr. Tyndall’s actions, and even worse, USC allowed them to continue, perpetuating Dr. Tyndall’s protection.”

USC’s Cover-up

According to its own website, USC provides its female students “a full range of women’s health care services including well women annual visits, testing, contraceptives and pregnancy counseling.”

The lawsuit states that official complaints of Dr. Tyndall's behavior began to surface at USC in the 1990s, but despite the university's knowledge of Dr. Tyndall's behavior, it did not report him to the agency responsible for protecting the public from problem doctors. USC did nothing for decades, according to the lawsuit.

“If USC had acted sooner – acted at all – it would have saved countless women from these horrific violations,” Berman said. “It is unquestionable that USC must be held responsible.”

Patients and nurses at USC accused Dr. Tyndall of "creepy" behavior, including inappropriate touching of his patients. Numerous USC supervisors and administrators became aware or observed it. Still, despite this knowledge, the university balked, allowing him to continue to practice. Not until 2016 was Dr. Tyndall finally suspended after a nurse approached USC's rape crisis center. According to the Los Angeles Times, "...in a secret deal last summer, top administrators allowed Tyndall to resign quietly with a financial payout."

Recent news headlines have brought these heinous acts to the forefront, and many victims have bravely stepped forward to tell their stories. Hagens Berman continues this fight, working to help achieve justice for those who have been victim to sexual violation, and enforce systemic change. Tell us about your case.

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About Hagens Berman
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law firm with 11 offices across the country. The firm has been named to the National Law Journal’s Plaintiffs’ Hot List eight times. 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.

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