You CAN be sued for not telling someone you had herpes. 23 years of herpes lawsuits proves this.

Starting in 1987, Let’s Look Over 23 Years of Herpes Lawsuits

In 1987 Tony Bennett made headlines when he was ordered by the courts to undergo medical tests to determine if he could have given a woman genital herpes. Bennett said he didn’t have herpes and that his doctors report confirmed this. Her lawsuit was for $95 million and he, naturally, was counter suing for $100 million.

I can find many references to the filing of this case, and none to how it was eventfully settled.

Also in 1987, this was making headlines:

The decision upheld the right of Jane Maharam, 56, to sue her former husband Robert, 56, on her claim that he had herpes and did not tell her. The court found that such partners have a legal duty to inform each other about their venereal diseases.

1992 was another big year in herpes lawsuits:

One of the big news items was that a 1986 lawsuit filed again the actor/comedian Robin Williams was finally settled. That’s 6 years later after the herpes lawsuit was filed! The case was settled out of court for an “undisclosed sum.”

The 1992 article in The New York Times, “Pillow Talk” brings up much that is still hotly being debated today:

1. Mr. Williams’s lawyer, argued in court papers that a person who doesn’t ask and doesn’t insist on prophylactics should assume the risks.

2. So, legal experts have begun to ask whether the responsibility for taking precautions should be shared. “Everybody should be on notice that unprotected sex creates risks of all sorts, and you shouldn’t rely totally on the good-faith disclosure of a partner,” said Catherine O’Neill of the Legal Action Center.

3. He also noted that judges have not come right out and described what they would consider a legally acceptable way to break the bad news to a lover. “They haven’t exactly spelled out a kind of Miranda warning for these cases,” Mr. Rabin said.

4. In herpes litigation, the claims against partners have ranged from those who sinned by omission, keeping mum about their status, to those who, when asked if they had a sexually transmitted disease, lied. In a 1984 opinion in a herpes case, a California appellate court acknowledged that while rulings on bedroom behavior infringed the right to privacy, public-health-policy concerns loomed larger. Courts have decided that if someone is infected, aware of it and sexually active, that person has a duty to inform a partner, who by extension, has a right to know.

2004 Herpes Lawsuits

In 2004 it was alleged NOT that Liza Minnelli had actually given David Gest herpes, but that Liza Minnelli had not told him that she had herpes until months after they had been married. Essentially, what was put forth was that this would make the prenuptial agreement invalid as the agreement would have been based on fraud… not all the information was given to Gest when signing the prenup.

2006 Herpes Lawsuit

Michael Vick, the football player who was later went to jail for dog-fighting and animal cruelty, settled a lawsuit filed by a woman who said he knowingly gave her herpes. The name “Ron Mexico” became infamous as that was the fake name Vick is reported to have used when seeking treatment for herpes.

2007 Herpes Lawsuit

In Los Angeles CA, Elizabeth Mazzocchi filed a herpes lawsuit against NYPD Blue actor Esai Morales. Once again, you only can find reference to the announcement of the lawsuit, and no reference to its outcome.

2009 Herpes Lawsuit

A woman was awarded $7 million in a suit filed by a 56 year old woman who was infected with herpes by a 77 year old man. Interesting here is the woman said she was denied health insurance after getting infected with herpes. The77 year old man said he would appeal.

2010 Herpes Lawsuit

A woman from Chicago filed a herpes lawsuit seeking $50,000 against her husband. The 1987 Tony Bennett lawsuit was for $95 million. Now, lawyers will take cases for $50,000. It seems it’s getting easier and easier to sue for herpes.

Where there is blood in the water, you are sure to find sharks. Lawyers seem to be more actively chasing the herpes ambulance.


• Is there a double standard for oral herpes and genital herpes? Is this fair?

• Should people have to disclose that they have oral herpes before kissing another person?

• Can you be sued for having HSV-1 (usually oral herpes) and having oral sex, and not telling the other person?

• If you give a person HSV-1 through oral sex can you be sued?

• Can you be sued for KISSING another person and giving them HSV-1 oral herpes?

• Do you have to tell that you have genital herpes if you practice safe sex and it’s a one night stand?

• If you are participating in RISKY BEHAVIOR, does that mean you assume the risk? (Could a prostitute sue someone for giving her herpes?)

• Do porn stars have a right to know if the person they are working with has herpes?

• Must you tell the truth of your STD status if the other person asks? In other words, “Is LYING the same as simply not telling?”

• Is the responsibility of discussing herpes and other STDs a one way street? Is only a person who knows they have or have had an STD required to bring it up?

• Is a person who has unprotected sex with lots of people required to be truthful about this when asked? After all, it’s the risky behavior that makes a STD more likely. People that get tested are simply being responsible. Must the responsible people bear all the responsibility simply because they got tested?

• Does a person have a LEGAL responsibility to know their STD status? If a person is having unprotected sex with multiple partners, shouldn’t they know that they may be passing on STDs to other people, even if they haven’t received an official test? A reasonable person would know this.

• Is a person who has a STD but fails to get tested still legally responsible for giving the other person their STD? (The ignorance is bliss excuse is an excuse…)

• Is HSV-1 a sexually transmitted disease?