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Copyright (c) 1984 Cornell Law Review
Cornell Law Review

NOTE: LIABILITY IN TORT FOR THE SEXUAL TRANSMISSION OF DISEASE: GENITAL HERPES AND THE LAW.

November, 1984

70 Cornell L. Rev. 101

Author

Louis A. Alexander

Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Several million Americans suffer from genital herpes, an incurable and highly contagious sexually transmitted disease. 1 In the past two years, a number of victims of genital herpes have filed suit to recover damages from sexual partners who infected them with the disease. 2 A few of these plaintiffs have been successful. In 1983, a Washington, State judge awarded $ 40,000 to a woman who contracted genital herpes from her husband. 3 In January 1984, an Iowa judge awarded $ 50,000 to a woman who sued her ex-husband for infecting her with genital herpes. 4 The Second District Court of Appeal in California also recently upheld the right to sue in tort for the sexual transmission of genital herpes. 5

The increased incidence of genital herpes poses an immediate health threat to the American public. The disease is recurrent and is presently incurable. 6 Genital herpes infections acquired by newborns during passage through the birth canal are often fatal or leal to serious physical and mental impairments. 7 In addition, there is an association between genital herpes infection and cervical cancer. 8 Finally, victims of the disease often suffer emotional and psychological distress. 9

This Note contends that courts should impose liability for the transsmission of genital herpes to advance the public policy objectives of arresting the spread of this disease, protecting the health and well-being of the American population, and guarding against serious or fatal infections of the newborn. First, the Note ...
 
 
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