Zein Obagi, Litigation Attorney at Obagi Law Group, PC., Examines USC’s Largest Sex Abuse Payout in Educational History


LOS ANGELES, CA, UNITED STATES, May 6, 2021 /EINPresswire.com/ — The $1.1 billion settlements by USC to about 17,000 former patients of gynecologist George Tyndall was the largest sex-abuse settlement in educational history. However, the payouts differ greatly. Women who joined a federal class-action lawsuit got considerably less than those who gambled on individual lawsuits. Some victims are ecstatic, although others feel duped by the outcome.

Zein Obagi Jr., premier litigation attorney at Obagi Law Group, PC, has some thoughts on the matter. “USC’s billion-dollar liability for the conduct of a licensed physician who so grossly deviated from the standards to which we hold doctors shows that employers are nearly never in the clear of liability, and ignorance provides no excuse in the law to liability,” states Obagi. “We see this often in other contexts, where employers turn a blind eye, for example, to the repeatedly sexually harassing conduct of an individual.”

USC agreed to pay alleged victims of Tyndall through two paths: a $215-million federal class-action settlement announced in 2018 and an $852-million state court settlement. But the class action is split among 17,000 women, with the largest awards not exceeding $300,000 — while the larger $852 million is split among more than 710 women and their lawyers. Several USC alums who were part of the class-action settlement feel they were shortchanged by the agreement and that their trauma was undervalued. Some have started contacting attorneys for a potential legal malpractice claim against the attorneys who led the class-action settlement.

Obagi continues, “When an employer empowers an employee to use the tools and empowerment afforded by his employment to abuse, harass and sexually assault, this settlement sends a resounding message that the employer can expect to pay big sums for having empowered the abuser.”

Former patients have reached a global settlement, so USC’s legal cases are coming to an end. USC has instituted numerous reforms, including more women on the health staff of the campus health center; an independent women’s health advocate; and more sexual violence prevention programs and trainings. And Tyndall still faces criminal charges filed by Los Angeles County prosecutors; he has pleaded not guilty, and a trial is expected by next year.

“A reasonable jury in this day and age expects employers to investigate complaints and take action to ensure that the conduct that is the subject of the complaint does not occur again. When an employer repeatedly ignores complaints, or shoves them under the rug, you can expect a jury to punish the employer. And here, USC’s settlement demonstrates an appreciation for that fact,” concludes Obagi.


Zein E. Obagi Jr.

With more than a decade of experience as a licensed attorney serving Californians, Zein E. Obagi, Jr. carries a reputation as a game-changing fierce advocate. He fights for employees who have fallen victim to hostile employers and for individuals who have lost assets to dishonest business partners. With his combination of experience, passion and willingness to bring the full power of the law to bear for his clients, Zein has built a firm that delivers on its credo to each of its clients. After working for a variety of firms in Los Angeles, including one of the largest and most prestigious in the city, Zein founded what is now Obagi Law Group, P.C. in 2012. In the years since, Zein has built a team of diverse, energetic and highly skilled attorneys who specialize in righting the wrongs of discrimination, unlawful retaliation, wrongful termination and other abuses in the workplace, as well as protecting clients’ interests in the world of business in California. With Zein leading the way, the attorneys at Obagi Law Group treat each client as if he or she were the firm’s only client, delivering time and again and attaining awards at times in the millions of dollars.

While Zein makes social justice and fighting for the little guy hallmarks of his practice, he also lives by the same values he has woven into the fabric of Obagi Law Group. For instance, being raised with six sisters and married to a successful physician, Zein understands that men and women are equal in every way. He continues to advance this belief not only in his practice, but through his work with the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA). In July 2020 the organization appointed Zein to the President’s Advisory Committee on Women in the Legal Profession. Among Zein’s other public-service endeavors are a trio of trips to the Katrina-ravaged Gulf Region to supply critical pro bono legal aid as part of the inaugural and two subsequent Legal Aid Alternative Breaks Projects; volunteer work with the Los Angeles 5 (LA5) Chapter of Rotary Club International, and two runs as a candidate for U.S. Congress in California’s 33rd District.

A graduate of UC Berkeley (BA, political science) and the University of Southern California, Gould School of Law (JD), Zein enjoys admission to practice law throughout the State of California; the U.S. District Court for the Central, Southern, Eastern and Northern Districts of California; the Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals; and the Supreme Court of the United States. Zein also serves as Co-Chair of Programs with the LACBA Small Firm Section, and in 2020 was appointed to another LACBA committee, the Judicial Appointments Committee, which responds to requests by the Governor to evaluate individuals under consideration for appointment to the Superior Court of California bench.

Aurora DeRose
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