Settlement in Tyndall class-action lawsuit to include seven new school policies

The agreement finalized today between former patients of Dr. George Tyndall and the university expands USC’s reform efforts.

On the eve of the State of the University address, USC quietly reached an agreement with the women suing the school over the misconduct of former USC gynecologist, Dr. George Tyndall. USC accepted seven major policy reforms for student health, according to documents under review by federal court.  

The new policies in the settlement would allow all female students to see a female gynecologist, mandate the hiring of a new women's health advocate and background checks for all new personnel in direct contact with patients.

"I am encouraged by today's settlement filing, which takes another important step in healing our community," Interim USC President Wanda Austin said in a statement on the settlement website Tuesday.

In October 2018, the school established a $215-million dollar fund to compensate any patients treated by Tyndall in his 29-year career. The deal proposed on Wednesday offered $2,500 payments to all patients who were treated by Tyndall. If his former patients wanted to submit a form or be interviewed by the court-appointed special master, they could receive up to $250,000.  The settlement agreement is pending federal court approval.

Austin said USC is, "providing a fair and respectful resolution to as many former, impacted patients as possible," and it is a top priority to make "impactful changes that strengthen our university."

Three plaintiffs have released their thoughts on the settlement on the YouTube page, USC Survivors today. All three praised the flexible monetary settlement process and the university's focus on structural reform.

"USC having to amend their policies and procedures is important. It says to me that their policies and procedures before were inadequate and irresponsible," said Elisabeth Treadway, who graduated from USC in 2001.

On campus Wednesday, questions lingered on the efficiency of the university to implement the specifics of the latest policies in the settlement. There are currently three, two full-time and one available by referral, women gynecologists at the two USC student health centers. Students expressed concerns about wait times for female patients seeking female doctors.

"It is so hard to get an appointment in the first place," said Jessica Faltinsky, a sophomore communications major. "I'd much more prefer to see a female, but there's just not enough resources."

Freshman design student, Carolyn Robbins agreed that "seeing a female doctor is a priority." Robbins said she would rather seek doctors outside of USC than wait for a female doctor on campus because of previous misconduct by male gynecologists within the USC.

The Tyndall lawsuit inspired the school to propose 18 policy changes before the settlement was reached. A new Office of the Ombudsman has already been staffed by Katherine Greenwood and Thomas Kosakowski. However,  several other positions haven't been filled.

The school has created a website where new policies and updates to the legal settlement are posted, and it mentions the hiring of a "nationally respected leader," who improves standards and patient care for student health along with "two new female board-certified gynecologists."

USC Annenberg Media reached out to the university about the search to fill the women's advocate and health staff position but did not receive comment.

During the State of the University address on Wednesday, Austin briefly acknowledged the settlement and the latest lawsuit filed by former male students, who allege sexual abuse and discrimination based on their sexual orientation at Engemann. Austin did not elaborate on school action.

The photo from this article was taken from a video of Elisabeth Treadway was originally attributed as courtesy of CLS Strategies. CLS Strategies sent us the video, but it was produced by the Plaintiffs' Class Counsel and we have updated our attribution.

Correction made on Feb. 16 at 11:44 a.m.: In a previous version of this story, we said USC "has pledged to hire two new gynecologists but no hires have been announced." In fact, the two new hires were made in September 2018. They are Dr. Anne Michels and Dr. Deirdre Logan.