A jury awarded Rock Hudson's lover $14.5 million - $3.5 million more than he sought - in a case that appears to increase the legal responsibility of AIDS sufferers to tell sexual companions of their plight.
In what one expert called a landmark decision, the jury declared Wednesday that Hudson engaged in "outrageous conduct" before his death by withholding his AIDS diagnosis from Marc Christian so he could continue their sexual affair.The settlement could go still higher. Jurors were scheduled to return Thursday to hear evidence and consider punitive damages against Mark Miller, Hudson's secretary, who was found to have conspired to keep the late actor's AIDS diagnosis a secret.
Hudson's estate and Miller were co-defendants in the seven-week trial in Los Angeles Superior Court, where jurors listened to often-lurid testimony about the late star's sex life before they decided in favor of Christian, 35.
Aside from Hudson's fame, the case was unusual because Christian apparently was not infected by the AIDS virus despite his exposure. It is believed to be the first case of its type in which damages were awarded to a plaintiff who had not developed physical symptoms of AIDS.
Christian claimed he was entitled to compensation for the emotional distress of fearing he would get AIDS, a fatal illness that attacks the body's immune system.
Margaret Davis, an attorney and author of "Lovers, Doctors and the Law," said the Hudson case is "absolutely a landmark" that will likely encourage other lawsuits by people who are "deceived by promises in the dark."