Doe v. Johnson

817 F. Supp. 1382 (W.D. Mich. 1993)

 

RULE:

A plaintiff may maintain negligence and fraud claims based on wrongful transmission of venereal diseases, including genital herpes and a defendant's actual knowledge that s/he is infected with an infectious disease is sufficient to establish a duty for purposes of negligence and fraud.

FACTS:

A woman filed a complaint stating several causes of action against a man. The woman claimed that the man was sexually active, engaging in sexual intercourse with multiple partners, prior to having sex with her and, thus, knew or should have known that he had a high risk of becoming infected with the HIV virus because of his sexually active, promiscuous lifestyle. Thus, the woman claimed that the man had a duty and, in fact, should have warned her of his past lifestyle. The woman further claimed that he did in fact have the HIV virus, and should have either not had sex with her or used a condom.

ISSUE:

Is the intent to cause harm to a person required for a defendant to be liable for having caused harm to that person?

ANSWER:

No

CONCLUSION:

There is no need to show that there is intent on the defendant’s part to hurt someone. The court determined that the man owed a legal duty to disclose the fact that he might have the HIV virus if he had actual knowledge that he had the HIV virus, had experienced symptoms associated with the HIV virus, or had actual knowledge that a prior sex partner had the HIV virus. The court found that the man owed the woman no duty to disclose that he had engaged in any high-risk activity that increased the odds of carrying or transmitting the HIV virus. It also concluded that strict liability did not apply to the circumstances of this case and that consortium did not apply because no acts were directed at the woman's daughter.

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