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Private "Injury" Problem Yields Public Wrath

Van O'Steen

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Most people who are unlucky enough to contract a venereal disease want nothing more than to keep the problem a secret.  It surely is one of the most private matters.

Occasionally, however, some angry and bold victim will sue the person who infected him or her with the illness.  Because personal injury lawsuits are nearly always public events, this embarrassing personal health problem suddenly becomes public information.

Those who file these lawsuits generally do so on the basis that they were lied to by their sex partner.  Most of the suits involve claims that the victim asked and was told that the partner had no sexually transmittable disease.

Although I am unaware of such a case being filed in Arizona, they have been litigated in other states.  In many of those cases, the person who transmitted the disease was ordered to compensate his or her victim.

Even without preliminary health discussion, it might be possible for a person who contracts a venereal disease to win a personal injury lawsuit against the person who gave it to him or her.  Assuming the infected party knew of his or her condition, a judge might rule that a legal duty exists to disclose the medical matter prior to sexual relations.

For obvious reasons, the law is not clear.  I imagine many potential cases exist, but most victims are reluctant to make public a matter so private.  I suspect, however, more rulings are not far off.

It is clear already, however, that you run some risk of being sued (and losing) the lawsuit if you do not tell a potential sex partner about a sexually transmittable disease that you have.

Perhaps the law is responding to the larger crisis of increasing venereal disease or perhaps it is no more than recognition of the legal axiom that every wrong deserves a remedy.
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