Los Angeles man who infected his ex-wife with HIV is ordered to
pay her $12.5 million
L.A. County judge rules that the man acted with fraud and
malice. The couple's case led to a 2006 ruling that people could
be held liable for passing on the AIDS virus.
By Joanna Lin
November 25, 2008
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge Friday ordered a man
who infected his former wife with the virus that causes AIDS to
pay her $12.5 million.
The six-year legal battle between the couple, identified in
court documents as "Bridget B." and "John B.," thrust their
sexual history into public record and brought them before the
California Supreme Court, where justices in 2006 ruled that
people could be held liable for failing to inform a new partner
of previous risky sexual behavior.
In his tentative ruling, Judge Rolf M. Treu said John B. acted
with fraud and malice and ordered him to pay his former wife $5
million in future loss of earnings and $7.5 million in general
damages. Treu ruled in a bench trial last month that Bridget B.
had justifiably trusted her husband until she had a reason not
In October 2000, two months after the couple honeymooned in Bora
Bora and had unprotected sex for the first time, Bridget B.
tested positive for HIV. Thinking that she had infected her
husband, Bridget B. testified that she had been guilt-ridden for
more than a year.
The 43-year-old Los Angeles resident accused her former husband
of fraud and negligence. She said in court testimony earlier
this year that the couple had a loving courtship and storybook
wedding, and that she had no reason to suspect that her
then-husband had been exposed to HIV.
Both Bridget B. and John B. had tested negative for the virus in
the past -- he before their honeymoon and she in 1995. Bridget
B. said she did not engage in unprotected sex and had no
plausible exposure to the virus between her negative test and
meeting her husband three years later, according to court
But in early 2002, Bridget B. discovered that her husband had
visited websites with sexually explicit homosexual content and
found e-mails showing that he had had unprotected sex with men
he met over the Internet, according to court documents.
John B. had also admitted to having sex with two men before
their marriage, Bridget B. said in her testimony.
John B., who represented himself at trial, argued that his
ex-wife had contracted the virus first.
He could not be reached for comment Monday.
Lars Johnson, an attorney for Bridget B., said Monday that he
and his client were "very happy" with the ruling, adding that
Treu's finding of fraud and malice ensured that John B. would
have to pay his former wife even if he filed for bankruptcy.
Lin is a Times staff writer.