The Usher Case(s): Don’t Be a Victim If Someone Knowingly Transmits an STD to You

The recent news about R & B singer Usher being sued for $10 million for knowingly infecting a woman with herpes comes on the heels of the disclosure of a $1.1 million settlement he paid in 2012 for the same transgression – and now reports are out that Usher may have infected multiple women with herpes who are now coming forward, presumably to initiate litigation against him.  Recently we sued a movie producer/director who infected our client for $5 million – his then girlfriend – with herpes.  As detailed in our lawsuit, the defendant had previously received a herpes diagnosis and had unprotected sex with our client, even though she had pointedly asked him previously whether he had any sexually transmitted diseases – and he denied that he did.  Sure enough, she tested positive for the herpes simplex virus type 2 soon after; her former boyfriend’s excuse?  “I thought I told you.”  Our lawsuit was filed in Richmond County Supreme Court (Staten Island) and with the civil complaint we annexed the confirming text messages between the parties in which the defendant admitted what he had done.

Don’t Hide, Don’t Bury Your Head in the Sand: Stand Up For Your Rights

The Usher case makes clear that being knowingly infected by someone with a sexually transmitted disease does not mean that one has to run and hide in the shadows in shame: it is illegal both criminally (pursuant to New York Public Health Law § 2307) and civilly in New York to do so such a thing.  And as the $1.1 million settlement figure also makes clear, the potential damages arising from a knowing transmission of a sexually transmitted venereal disease are huge, both financially and to one’s health.

While litigation for such a civil wrong is rare, it is my belief that this is due more to victims’
embarrassment over having contracted the disease rather than the difficulty in pursuing a claim.  We have successfully pursued damages on behalf of clients who have been wronged by high profile and very powerful individuals.  And in cases such as this – a lawsuit concerning the knowing transmission of an STD – we have protected our client’s privacy: she is listed as “Jane Doe” in all court documents.

Document Everything 

In all cases like this, it is important to document any and all contact you have with the offending party: texts, emails, voicemails, all of it should be preserved as these materials could make up a large portion of the evidence needed to successfully enforce your claim.  In short, the more detail you have, the better chance you have to succeed.  And the more materials you possess, the greater the likelihood a settlement can be reached even before litigation is initiated, thus guaranteeing your privacy as well as the rigors of litigation.

Hire a Strong Attorney Who Will Not Sell You Out

Finally, it is most important to hire the strongest attorney who can find, one who will not be afraid to do what needs to be done to win a high profile and oftentimes ugly case.  Hiring a top New York attorney who has fought and defeated the federal government is a good start.  Give us a call at (212) 581-1001 today to discuss your case.

Jeffrey Lichtman has received the highest rating (AV) from the Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directory, is recognized in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers and has also been selected as a New York City Super Lawyer for being a leader in his field of criminal defense.  Mr. Lichtman has received a rating of 10.0/10 Superb rating from Avvo Lawyer Directory and was profiled in the New York Daily News, The New York Times as part of the “Public Lives” series and in a two-part series in Super Lawyers magazine.  He can be reached at (212) 581-1001.