We asked a lawyer whether this type of case is common.
That information comes courtesy of bombshell court papers obtained by Radar Online, which show that Usher was allegedly diagnosed with herpes in 2009 or 2010, and then reportedly passed it on to an unnamed celebrity stylist.
In the papers, the singer is accused of “consciously and purposefully” withholding his diagnosis from the woman as he “continued to have unprotected sex” with her.
He also allegedly told the stylist that he had tested negative for herpes, even though he had a “greenish discharge” coming from his penis.
Eventually, the woman allegedly developed vaginal sores, fevers, and chills—all symptoms of herpes—and was diagnosed with the STD.
The court papers show that Usher paid $2,754.40 of the stylist’s medical bills in 2012. The stylist said in the court papers that she “feels that her health and body have been ruined” and “has suffered severe emotional distress and has been extremely depressed … knowing there is no cure.” Usher eventually settled with the stylist in late 2012 for $1.1 million, according to the court documents.
Laws vary by state, but California (where Usher and the stylist live) has a law that specifically states that it’s illegal to knowingly or recklessly transmit an STD.
Unfortunately, this type of lawsuit is more common than you'd think. Thomas Stroble, an attorney and founder of Michigan Injury Lawyers who handles STD injury cases, says his company gets up to five inquiries from people on this a week.
Stroble says a legal team needs to prove that someone knowingly or negligibly passed on an STD to the victim, who needs to show that they’ve had pain, suffering, and/or humiliation as a result of the STD. “Damages can be significant,” Stroble says.
“We need to be able to establish that they knew or should have known about this condition and they failed to warn, disclose, or take precautionary measures to prevent that transmission.”
As for proof, Stroble says it can be as simple as noticing a bump on someone’s genitals and that person denying that they have an STD. “But often we’ll have text messages or email back and forth, or someone confronts someone and they apologized,” he says. “We often have direct evidence.”
Let's be clear: There is nothing wrong or shameful about having an STD. In the U.S., about one in every six people ages 14 to 49 have genital herpes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But knowingly opting not to disclose your STD status to a partner is another story.
If you’ve been given an STD by someone and you either know or suspect that they knew they had it in advance and didn’t try to prevent transmission, call an STD injury lawyer.