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USC Hires Debra Yang ’85 to Investigate Scandal

Chair of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher crisis management group retained to probe into actions of University of California medical school dean.

Photograph by Mark Liebowitz

Los Angeles attorney Debra Yang ’85, who specializes in highly contentious cases often involving well-known people caught up in scandals, has been hired to handle yet another such law suit.

This time her client is the University of Southern California, which has engaged her to investigate the actions of Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito, USC’s socially connected medical school dean and the subject of a July 17 Los Angeles Times exposé about his drug use and association with criminals.

The LA Times story questions the university’s own actions in Puliafito’s departure from his job in 2016, soon after he was involved in a companion’s hotel room overdose. That incident, which was reported to police, eventually led to the Times’ inquiry and the story of its findings sixteen months later.

In a letter to the USC community dated July 21, President C. L. Max Nikias wrote that the university hired Yang, a partner in the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, “to conduct a thorough investigation into the details of Carmen Puliafito’s conduct, the university’s response, as well as our exiting policies and procedures.”

Yang’s hiring was also announced in a July 25 story in the New York Times.

A profile of Yang appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of BC Law Magazine. Read about her background here.