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.

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FILE - In this Tuesday, May 22, 2018, file photo, people enter the University of Southern California's Engemann Student Health Center in Los Angeles. Nearly 100 women who contend that they were sexually harassed or abused by a former University of Southern California gynecologist, Dr. George Tyndall, are suing the school, arguing it ignored decades of complaints. The filing of new lawsuits on behalf of 93 women against the university was announced Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
A group of current and former USC students who are survivors of alleged sexual assault by gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall from the USC student health center and which occured over a 30 years period, speak out during a press conference in Los Angeles, California on October 18, 2018. - Nearly 20 survivors of Dr. Tyndall called upon members of the USC Board of Trustees to speak out on behalf of survivors and also to ask Attorney General Xavier Becerra to launch an independent investigation of the USC administration. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A group of current and former USC students who are survivors of alleged sexual assault by gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall from the USC student health center and which occured over a 30 years period, comfort each other during a press conference in Los Angeles, California on October 18, 2018. - Nearly 20 survivors of Dr. Tyndall called upon members of the USC Board of Trustees to speak out on behalf of survivors and also to ask Attorney General Xavier Becerra to launch an independent investigation of the USC administration. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
People enter the University of Southern California's Engemann Student Health Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Four former University of Southern California students have sued the school and an ex-campus gynecologist who they accuse of sexual battery and sexual harassment. The civil lawsuit filed Monday, May 21, 2018, in Los Angeles alleges Dr. George Tyndall forced the plaintiffs to strip naked and groped them under the guise of medical treatment for his sexual gratification. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
A group of current and former USC students who are survivors of alleged sexual assault by gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall from the USC student health center and which occured over a 30 years period, speak out during a press conference in Los Angeles, California on October 18, 2018. - Nearly 20 survivors of Dr. Tyndall called upon members of the USC Board of Trustees to speak out on behalf of survivors and also to ask Attorney General Xavier Becerra to launch an independent investigation of the USC administration. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Attorney Gloria Allred (C) speaks while flanked by current University of Southern California(USC) student Daniella Mohazab (L) and former USC student Angela Esquivel Hawkins (R) at a press conference in Los Angeles, California on May 22, 2018. - A lawsuit has been filed against the University of Southern California (USC) on behalf of one of the students and calling on USC to conduct an independent investigation on allegations made by students alleging inappropriate conduct by Doctor George Tyndall, the gynecologist assigned to examine and treat USC students. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
A group of current and former USC students who are survivors of alleged sexual assault by gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall from the USC student health center and which occured over a 30 years period, support each other during a press conference in Los Angeles, California on October 18, 2018. - Nearly 20 survivors of Dr. Tyndall called upon members of the USC Board of Trustees to speak out on behalf of survivors and also to ask Attorney General Xavier Becerra to launch an independent investigation of the USC administration. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A group of current and former USC students who are survivors of alleged sexual assault by gynecologist Dr. George Tyndall from the USC student health center and which occured over a 30 years period, speak out during a press conference in Los Angeles, California on October 18, 2018. - Nearly 20 survivors of Dr. Tyndall called upon members of the USC Board of Trustees to speak out on behalf of survivors and also to ask Attorney General Xavier Becerra to launch an independent investigation of the USC administration. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
People enter the University of Southern California's Engemann Student Health Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Four former USC students have sued the school and an ex-campus gynecologist who they accuse of sexual battery and sexual harassment. The civil lawsuit filed Monday, May 21 in Los Angeles alleges Dr. George Tyndall forced the plaintiffs to strip naked and groped them under the guise of medical treatment for his sexual gratification. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
University of Southern California student Daniella Mohazab, center, speaks at a news conference at the office of her attorney, Gloria Allred, left, Tuesday May 22, 2018, in Los Angeles. Mohazab, a USC student seeking a master's degree in communications management, is suing USC and an ex-campus gynecologist who she accuses of sexual battery. (AP Photo/Christopher Weber)
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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.

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USC president C.L. Max Nikias steps down
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USC president C.L. Max Nikias steps down
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 11: USC President C. L. Max Nikias at The University of Southern California's commencement ceremony that took place morning of Friday, May 11, on the University Park Campus. Pulitzer Prize-winning author and pioneering oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee will deliver the commencement address. Mukherjee, Charlie Beck, Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr., Jennifer A. Doudna and Forest Whitaker received honorary degrees.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 11: School President of USC CL Max Nikias attends The University Of Southern California's Commencement Ceremony at Alumni Park at USC on May 11, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 12: President of the University of Southern California C.L. Max Nikias presents Helen Mirren with an Honorary Doctorate Degree during the University Of Southern California 134th Commencement Ceremonies at The Shrine Auditorium on May 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: Max Nikias and�Niki Nikias'nattend The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Annual Gala at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA on April 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kathryn Page/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***�Max Nikias;Niki Nikias
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 25: C. L. Max Nikias, president of USC watches the game against the UCLA Bruins with athletic director Lynn Swann at Galen Center on January 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 08: (L-R) USC president C. L. Max Nikias, tv personality Willow Bay and chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company Bob Iger attend Ambassadors for Humanity Gala Benefiting USC Shoah Foundation at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on December 8, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 08: President of the University of Southern California, C.L. Max Nikias speaks onstage Ambassadors for Humanity Gala Benefiting USC Shoah Foundation at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on December 8, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 08: (L-R) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company Bob Iger, USC president C. L. Max Nikias, Niki C. Nikias, dean, USC Dornsife, Amber Miller and Jonathan T. D. Neil attend Ambassadors for Humanity Gala Benefiting USC Shoah Foundation at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on December 8, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
SANTA MONICA, CA - MAY 11: President of USC C.K Max Nikias and Niki Nikias arrive at the 3rd Biennial Rebels with a Cause Fundraiser on May 11, 2016 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 12: UNICEF Chair Ghada Irani (L) and honoree C. L. Max Nikias attend the Sixth Biennial UNICEF Ball Honoring David Beckham and C. L. Max Nikias presented by Louis Vuitton at Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel on January 12, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images for U.S. Fund for UNICEF)
DEARBORN, MI - SEPTEMBER 10: University of Southern California President C. L. Max Nikias speaks at a press conference conducted prior to the USC Shoah Foundation Ambassadors for Humanity Gala honoring William Clay Ford, Jr. at the Henry Ford Museum on September 10, 2015 in Dearborn, Michigan. (Photo by Loreen Sarkis/Getty Images for the USC Shoah Foundation)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 20: USC president C. L. Max Nikias and Niki C. Nikias attend the USC Institute of Urology 'Changing Lives And Creating Cures' Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on November 20, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/FilmMagic)
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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)

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