Johnson v. Jones

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Tort Law
  • Date Filed: 02-11-2015
  • Case #: A151870
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Haselton, C.J., for the Court; Lagesen, P.J.; & WIlson, J. pro tempore

The intent requirement to incur liability for a battery claim is met when a defendant transmits a sexually transmitted infection which they are aware of, but do not disclose their diagnosis to their sexual partner.

Defendant appeals a judgement in an action for battery and negligence. Plaintiff’s claims arise from contracting herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2), commonly known as genital herpes, after engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse with defendant, who did not disclose that he carries HSV-2. Defendant moved for partial directed verdict, arguing that plaintiff failed to prove intent on her battery claim. The trial court denied the motion, holding that in the totality of the circumstances, a jury could find that defendant acted with intent. The jury returned a verdict in plaintiff’s favor on both claims. On appeal, defendant contends that there was no evidence from which a jury could conclude that he possessed the requisite intent for a battery claim. The Court of Appeals held that plaintiff presented sufficient evidence that defendant knew that his contact with plaintiff, unprotected sex without disclosing his HSV-2 status, would be harmful or offensive to a reasonable person. Although the issue of civil liability for transmitting a sexually transmitted infection has not been addressed by Oregon appellate decisions, the Court reasoned that liability for battery is consistent with other jurisdictions, and that there is no authority to the contrary. Affirmed.

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