FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 25, 2021
BALTIMORE and LOS ANGELES — Howard Janet, managing partner of Baltimore-based Janet, Janet and Suggs, LLC (JJS) and Mike Arias, managing partner of Los Angeles–based Arias Sanguinetti Wang & Torrijos, LLP (ASWT), announced today that a group of 702 plaintiffs who brought litigation against USC related to the sexual abuse, assault, and harassment of Dr. George Tyndall have settled for a total of $842,400,000. Together, JJS and ASWT represent 136 of the 702 plaintiffs.
The $842.4 million figure is 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. It will be paid in two installments in August 2021 and August 2022, with a letter of credit securing the second payment.
“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 702 plaintiffs will be entitled to an average recovery of $1.2 million. All plaintiffs will participate in an allocation process managed by a neutral third party who will review each plaintiff’s damages individually, and then allocate the proceeds of the settlement. Neither USC nor Dr. Tyndall will have any input in the allocation process.
ASWT was named co-liaison counsel (along with Manly, Stewart & Finaldi) for the plaintiffs, a leadership role to represent the interests of those who brought individual actions. Mike Arias was also instrumental in coordinating the passage of AB 1510, a law which created a retroactive exception to the statute of limitations to ensure that these claims could be brought.
“It could never have happened without our exceptionally brave clients who came forward to talk about the injustice they suffered,” said Arias. “Those who reported abuse at the time it happened were ignored, and many did not feel comfortable doing so. Across the country, states are finally recognizing that this type of trauma comes with unique power dynamics that make survivors feel incapable of disclosing the abuse to others. The old time limits are insufficient and unjust.”
Dr. Tyndall was the only full-time gynecologist at USC from the late 1980s until 2016. USC investigated his conduct thoroughly in 2016 and permitted him to retire with a financial settlement in 2017. After reports of allegations of sexual abuse surfaced in 2018, thousands of survivors have come forward to assert claims of sexual abuse, assault, and harassment, as well as racist comments, from throughout his nearly 30-year tenure at USC. In 2019, Dr. Tyndall was charged with 29 felonies related to sexual misconduct. He is currently under house arrest.
Some of the allegations disclosed by ASWT and JJS’s clients over the course of the litigation were truly appalling. One woman who came to Dr. Tyndall shortly after being date-raped stated that he responded to the situation by taking pictures of her breasts and vagina and encouraging her not to report it, saying she probably did something to “turn him on because women like you do that”; after this incident, the woman dropped out of USC, unable to continue attending a school where she was constantly reminded of such trauma. Another plaintiff alleged that Dr. Tyndall himself raped her, during which he claimed he was helping her because she was “too dry” and now she was “finally getting wet.” Another woman commented that Dr. Tyndall’s sexual assault “was the very first time any man touched me that way” and her interactions with him “changed the course of how I sought out feminine health care, my trust in male doctors and men in general, and how I viewed myself sexually forever”—feelings that are all too common among the survivors. Yet another plaintiff described recurring nightmares where she is in the “USC library in the dark” with a “menacing male figure,” trying to scream as hard as she can, but finding she has no voice. Further, one plaintiff was suffering from such depression that she was unable to pursue graduate school after graduating from USC, and ended up getting a labiaplasty due to the anxieties created by Dr. Tyndall’s behavior.
A separate class action settlement for claims relating to Dr. Tyndall was approved on February 26, 2020. At the time, many criticized the settlement for being inadequate, especially because it was devised before anyone had investigated the facts of the case through discovery. In that settlement, the absolute maximum payment was $250,000, and many claimants received far less (the minimum payment being $2,500). It has been recently disclosed that the victims in that class action process will receive a paltry settlement of just under $15,000 on average. All the 702 plaintiffs in the individual actions opted out of the class action settlement.
“I’m sure our clients will be glad they didn’t settle for less,” said Howard Janet. “Our results are a testament to the extraordinary work done by these plaintiff lawyers to ferret out the truth. It’s also a reflection of this country’s mindset after the Me Too movement. Institutions who let sexual predators operate with impunity are finally being held accountable.”
Other ASWT attorneys who worked on the case included Alfredo Torrijos, Arnold Wang, and Travis Daniels, and other JJS attorneys who worked on the case included Andrew Janet (Vice Chair of JJS’s Sexual Abuse Division) and former sex crime prosecutors Natalie D’Antonio and Brenda Harkavy.
“We could not be more proud to be involved in this process. It is an incredible victory for survivors of sexual abuse,” said Andrew Janet.
Mike Arias is a former president of both the Consumer Attorneys of California and the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA), two of the largest trial lawyer associations in the nation.
Howard Janet had previously negotiated a $190 million settlement of the class action against The Johns Hopkins Hospital on behalf of the women who alleged they were sexually abused and photographed by OBGYN Dr. Nikita Levy.
Both JJS and ASWT represent sexual abuse survivors throughout the country in a variety of institutional contexts, including by clergy, teachers, and healthcare providers.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Andrew Janet –Janet, Janet & Suggs
Mike Arias –ASWT