A story in The Oregonian and numerous other outlets reports that a Portland jury awarded $900,000 in damages to a woman who claimed she contracted genital herpes from a man who concealed his diagnosis until after they had sex.
The 49-year old woman, who used a pseudonym in the lawsuit, claims she met a 69-year old retired dentist through an online dating site. The couple hit it off and, after four dates, had sex. Afterwards he divulged having genital herpes, which prompted her to immediately show him the door.
She immediately sought care, including a baseline antibody test that was negative for HSV-2. A week and half later she had the first of several outbreaks, was diagnosed with genital herpes, and began treatment (which, according to The Oregonian article, she says led to her hair falling out).
After four days of trial and two hours of deliberations, the jury found the man was 75% responsible and owed money to the women for her pain and suffering. Juror Noah Brimhall told the Oregonian “We all felt he should have told her; he had the responsibility to tell her.”
A key point of the suit is that the man, a retired dentist, knew – or should have known- he could transmit HSV while asymptomatic; the man contends he was truly unaware of the risks between outbreaks.
The Oregonian says the woman’s lawyer, Randall Vogt, described his client as “heroic” for holding a “dangerous man responsible” while defense attorney Shawn Lillegren characterized the woman as “careless” for not insisting on condom use. The plaintiff and defendant agreed during the trial that the plaintiff suggested condom use and put one on the nightstand, but both agreed it was not used.
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. We’ll publish selected comments in the next issue of The Helper.