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Monday 28 January 2008

US: Further developments in California civil case

Further developments in the case of Bridget B and John B in California, whose civil case made headlines in 2006 when the California Supreme Court ruled that "constructive knowledge" of HIV risk meant that a person has a duty to disclose the possibility of having being infected with HIV to prospective sexual partners, even in the absence of a positive HIV-antibody test.

(For an overview, including a link to the actual ruling, visit this page at

You may recall the case: Bridget tested HIV-positive in September 2000, shortly before her husband's HIV-positive test. More than a year later, John told her he had had sex with men before and during their marriage.

The wife's suit claimed that John knew, or should have known, that he was infected. The court agreed, saying that people who engage in 'high-risk' sexual behaviour have the responsibility to warn their partners about the possibility of HIV infection.

The latest development is that
Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu has ruled that John will have to disclose his sexual orientation in the long-delayed civil trial, which begins in February 2008.

The AP article (published in the San Jose Mercury News) is below.

Man accused of giving ex-wife HIV will have to reveal lifestyle

LOS ANGELES -- A judge has ruled a man accused of infecting his ex-wife with the AIDS virus will have to disclose his sexual orientation in an upcoming civil trial.

Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu has ruled that attorneys representing the man's ex-wife can use his e-mails as evidence of his "rampant, high-risk secret (homo)sexual lifestyle." The e-mails show he "actually acquired HIV through his high-risk sexual behavior," court documents show.

The former couple, referred to in court papers as Bridget B. and John B., married in July 2000 and divorced in October 2003. Both were diagnosed with HIV in October 2000, and doctors said in January 2002 that the husband had AIDS.

Both blame the other for their conditions.

The ex-wife filed her lawsuit in 2002, claiming negligence, fraud and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The state Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that the woman could sue her former partner for allegedly infecting her with HIV, even if he did not know he was HIV-positive at the time. But the high court also set limits on how much information she could get about his past sexual partners.

The trial will be split into two phases. The first trial, scheduled to begin next month, will deal with whether the ex-wife waited too long to file her lawsuit. If she prevails, a second trial will be held on the other claims.



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