Woman can get damages from soon-to-be-ex husband who gave her herpes

By Michael Gora

Q For the last 15 years I have been married to a man who has had a stellar career in the hospitality industry.  He has worked for a succession of public companies for various hotel chains all over the world.  Ten years ago, I developed genital herpes, which could have only come through sexual contact with my husband, at a time we lived on the Florida west coast.

I talked to a divorce lawyer, where we lived at the time, about a divorce.  He suggested   bringing a case against my husband for damages for my having contracted this life long disease from my husband, who admitted that he had cheated on me, knew that he had the disease, but never told me.

At that time, and ever since, my husband told me that because of his job with a public company, that if I sued him for divorce it would hurt his career.  However, if I also sued him for damages, and alleged the facts about the sexually transmitted disease, he would be automatically fired, and never be able to get another job in the industry; that we would be ruined financially.  I backed off and did not file.

The last ten years have not been easy.   Every time I brought up divorce, and my other claim, he repeated his claim that it would get him fired.   Last week I caught him cheating on me again.  I spoke to a lawyer yesterday who is going to represent me in my divorce.

I asked her whether we could still sue him for the damages for contracting the disease 10 years ago.  She said that she was not

Michael Gora

certain.  The normal statute of limitations was four years for a damage case in Florida.  Do you think I can still sue him for damages, as well as for divorce?  Should I go entirely with my divorce attorney or consider a second attorney for the damages part of my case?

A Although it was not always allowable, for the last many years husbands and wives, in Florida, have had the right to sue one another for damages for personal injury claims arising during the marriage.  You can sue for negligence, fraud and deceit, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and battery arising out of the sexual transmission of a sexual disease.

In order to get around the four year statute of limitations, you should take the position that your husband raised the limitations issue by his conduct in threatening you that economic reprisals would be devastating to your family if you filed such a claim against him.  Recently, this position was successful in a Florida appellate court case.

Your damages can be assessed against your husband’s share of the marital estate, which is distributable to him on the divorce side of the case.  Ask your divorce attorney for a referral to highly qualified personal injury attorney, who will take that part of the case on a contingency basis. It would be unusual, but not impossible, to find a skilled divorce attorney who is also skilled at personal injury cases.

Michael H. Gora has been certified by the Board of Specialization of The Florida Bar as a specialist in family and matrimonial law, and is a partner with Shapiro Blasi Wasserman & Gora P.A. in Boca Raton.  Mr. Gora may be reached by e-mail at mhgora@sbwlawfirm.com.

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on Feb 26 2011 Filed under Divorce Florida Style, Front Page, News.
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About Pedro Heizer

I'm a person of simple taste, all I need is some country music, Batman, Star Wars, sports, coffee, and most importantly Jesus Christ, because what profits a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? View all posts by Pedro Heizer

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