USC agrees to $215 million settlement in California gynecologist case


LOS ANGELES, Oct 19 (Reuters) - The University of Southern California has reached a $215 million proposed settlement with former patients of a gynecologist at the school who was accused of sexual abuse, the president of the university said in a letter on Friday seen by Reuters.

The settlement centers on the conduct of George Tyndall, who practiced at USC until he was suspended in 2016 after a complaint from a health worker accusing him of making sexually inappropriate comments to patients. More than 400 women have since accused Tyndall of sexual abuse, some in a federal lawsuit covered by the settlement and others in state lawsuits that are still pending.

On Thursday, attorneys representing current and former University of Southern California students filed 93 additional lawsuits against USC in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging gross sexual misconduct and sexual assault on campus by Tyndall.

Women who received health services from Tyndall will be eligible to receive $2,500, according to the university. Those who provide details on their experiences under his care could receive up to $250,000 more, according to the letter from school President Wanda Austin to the university community. The total potential amount of the settlement is not yet known.

"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 wrote.

In August, then USC President C.L. Max Nikias stepped down after an outcry from faculty and students, who said the downtown Los Angeles school was slow to act over complaints against Tyndall.

Tyndall resigned from USC last year and has since lost his license to practice medicine in California.

Tyndall's attorney, N. Denise Taylor, said her client denies all allegations but agreed to the settlement to avoid the expense of continued litigation.

The settlement was reached in a federal class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of hundreds of current and former students at USC, according to a statement from law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP representing women in the lawsuit.

Tyndall subjected patients to inappropriate touching, unnecessary penetration with his hands, lewd comments and other inappropriate conduct, the law firm said.

Attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing 44 women who have accused the university and Tyndall of misconduct in two lawsuits, said the settlement in the federal case was too small.

"We are continuing to vigorously litigate our state cases for numerous victims and we will insist that each of our clients be properly compensated for what they were forced to endure," she said in an email on Friday.

Allred said she plans to file a third lawsuit to include even more woman that the doctor treated during his 30 years at the school.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg and Gabriella Borter in New York; editing by Lisa Shumaker)