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Linda Chalat
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Herpes Trial Results in Significant Verdict

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A dental hygienist in Oregon contracted genital herpes from the man she was dating. The woman, who used a pseudonym to protect her privacy, met the boyfriend on the online dating site eHarmony. He also was not identified. The pair reportedly had sex on their fourth date in May 2010.

The four-day trial wrapped up last week and required jurors to decide who was at fault, whether the man intentionally exposed the woman and what is fair monetary compensation after acquiring a sexually transmitted disease.

The 49-year-old woman was awarded $900,000 against her 69-year-old suitor, a retired dentist from Portland, although the initial amount wasn’t immediately known. The jury found that the man was 75% at fault, while the woman was 25% responsible. The jurors also decided that by exposing her to the STD, the man committed battery and made her suffer greatly, The Oregonian said.

During the trial the plaintiff testified that she asked him to wear a condom and thought he had put one on. But after having sex, she learned otherwise, and he admitted he had genital herpes, she said. Then she suffered a herpes outbreak 11 days after the sexual encounter, and began losing her hair from an anti-viral medication.

What makes the trial particularly noteworthy is the clear misreading of the jury by the defense lawyer. The defense attorney claimed it was equally plaintiff's responsibility to ensure his client was wearing a condom.

“Grow up. Come on. You’re an adult. He’s an adult. They had sex,” defense attorney Lillegren told The Oregonian. “The point is she is not some little innocent victim.”

He closed with a reference to “hot coffee spill,” clearly suggesting that the victim was exaggerating her injuries. The argument did not work with the jury, who awarded the woman almost every penny for which she was asking.