Man Ordered To Pay $900,000 For Transmitting Herpes
A woman who allegedly contracted herpes from a date was awarded $900,000 by an Oregon jury after they decided that the man acted recklessly.
The 49-year-old woman, who was not named and filed the suit under a pseudonym, met the defendant, a 69-year-old retired dentist, on an online dating site in 2010. They went on four dates together and had sex on the fourth. Approximately 11 days later, the woman began experiencing a herpes outbreak.
During testimony, the woman said she asked the man to wear a condom, but he removed it during the act and told her later that he had herpes. She told the jury she is experiencing numerous outbreaks and now suffers from depression as a result.
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"It made her feel like she needed to isolate herself from society, and she became a recluse," Randall Vogt, the attorney for the woman, told the Associated Press. "She was interested in finding a husband but pretty much dropped efforts in that direction because of the herpes."
More than 1 in 6 adults in the United States have herpes, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and transmission can occur even if no outbreak is occurring.
The woman received a clean bill of health a few months before the incident, which was crucial, Vogt said.
But Shawn Lillegren, attorney for the man, said she likely contracted the condition from someone else.
"Grow up. Come on. You're an adult. He's an adult. They had sex," Lillegren said, according to the Huffington Post. "The point is she is not some little innocent victim."
In the closing arguments, Lillegren portrayed the woman as money hungry, and said the woman was negligent because she didn't demand he wear a condom.
"Go for a million - that's plaintiff's message," he said, according to the Associated Press. "God bless America. Go for it. Got some coffee to spill on me?"
Vogt, however, said that the man was "dangerous," and called his client a heroine for standing up to hold him responsible.
"Ninety-nine percent of the people who find themselves in (her) situation simply wring their hands and do nothing," Vogt said, according to the Oregonian. "They know if they file a lawsuit, it's going to be hotly contested. It's going to be embarrassing. It's going to be massively unpleasant."
Ultimately, the jury decided that her pain was worth $900,000.
Noah Brimhall, one of the jurors, told the Oregonian that the man should have informed her of his status before they got together.
"We all felt he should have told her -- he had the responsibility to tell her," he said.
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