Arias Sanguinetti Wang & Torrijos (ASWT) along with co-counsel have obtained the largest known settlement in a sexual abuse case in U.S. history, as well as the largest known personal injury settlement against a university. The $852,000,000 settlement is on behalf of over 700 former USC students alleging sexual abuse by USC OB/GYN George Tyndall. The 710 plaintiffs will be entitled to an average recovery of $1.2 million.
ASWT was named co-liaison counsel for the plaintiffs, a leadership role to represent the interests of those who brought individual actions. ASWT was actively involved in the discovery and mediation processes. Baltimore-based Janet, Janet and Suggs, LLC also served as co-counsel.
“This is tremendous vindication for all the women who suffered abuse at the hands of a disgusting doctor who had to endure inaction and a cover-up by USC,” said Nicole Haynes, one of the plaintiffs in this case.
The plaintiffs in this case will participate in an allocation process managed by a neutral third party known as a “Special Master.” This Special Master will review each plaintiff’s damages individually, and then allocate the proceeds of the settlement pool. It will be paid in two installments in August 2021 and August 2022. These decisions will be subject to individual plaintiffs’ appeals for reconsideration. Neither USC nor Dr. Tyndall will have any input in the allocation process.
The plaintiffs are former undergraduate and graduate students who attended USC from the 1980’s through 2017. The timeframe of the allegations contained in the complaint ranges from the late 1980’s until Tyndall’s retirement – nearly Tyndall’s entire tenure at the USC Student Health Center. Tyndall was the only full-time gynecologist at USC during this period. Dr. Tyndall was placed on leave by USC in 2016 and permitted to retire, with a significant financial settlement, in 2017.
“These brave women suffered irreparable mental and physical harm, and many may never recover from what George Tyndall stole from them,” said ASWT Managing Partner Mike Arias. “It took a years-long massive legal effort to get USC to own up to its behavior and now, hopefully, the university will continue to take steps so that no one in the USC family will ever have to suffer this way again.”
Mr. Arias also wants to offer a special thank you to the many people who helped make this settlement possible. This includes the bold California legislators who helped pass AB 1510, the women who went to Sacramento to testify on behalf of the victims, the USC witnesses who were courageous and stepped forward, all the plaintiff attorneys involved in the litigation, and lastly, and most importantly, all the survivors that opted out of the class and trusted their counsel to seek real justice.
The complaints filed on behalf of these women alleged Dr. Tyndall used his position as a trusted and credentialed medical professional to commit a series of abusive acts toward his patients, including: forcing his patients to undress completely in front of him while he watched; groping his patients’ breasts; digitally penetrating his patients’ vaginas and anuses, often without wearing gloves and with unwashed hands; photographing his patients’ genitals and naked bodies; and making racist, misogynistic, and sexually-harassing comments to his patients.
The lawsuits also claimed that although USC was made aware of allegations the university actively and deliberately concealed Tyndall’s sexual abuse of female student patients for decades and continued to grant him unfettered sexual access to the young students in his and USC’s care.
“We hope that this settlement will act as a strong deterrent to other universities, corporations and companies that would consider covering up sexual misconduct rather than providing a safe environment,” said attorney Arias.
This settlement is in stark contrast with the previous settlement of $215 million which was negotiated by different law firms on behalf of more than 18,000 women. It has been recently disclosed that the victims in that settlement who sought compensation in the highest tier available will receive a paltry $96,000 on average. All of the 710 individual plaintiffs opted out of the class action settlement.
“As we argued from the beginning, it’s clear that the prior class action settlement was unfair to all those survivors who were forced to make a decision regarding the class action, so early into this litigation and before any substantive discovery had been taken,” added Mr. Arias.
The case is Jane Doe et al. v. University of Southern California, Los Angeles Superior Court, Case No. BC715163.
Several major media outlets covered our victory in this case, to see a sample, please click below: