I heard a radio program talking about HPV yesterday morning. I was very upset because the host was misrepresenting HPV and cervical cancer...including calling the women nasty names and dirty. He was referencing a recent lawsuit filed and won for 1.5 million...now I find this lawsuit crazy too. Those of us who are educated know there is no way to know who infected who and when. Read this and let me know your thoughts. There are several more reports out on google.
Updated August 11. 2008 7:48AM
$1.5 million awarded in HPV lawsuit
By Trish Mehaffey
Jeff Tronvold, Cedar Rapids attorney, said a Muscatine County jury sent a strong message last week when they awarded $1.5 million to a 25-year-old woman in her lawsuit against a man who infected her with the Human Papilloma Virus or HPV.
It's the first case like this that has made it to court in Iowa and one of a small percentage in the United States, Tronvold said. Most of the HPV-related cases in the courts and in the news concern the side effects of the vaccination Gardasil.
This genital virus is the most common sexually transmitted infection which attacks the skin and mucous membranes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Karly Rossiter, 23, at the time of infection in 2005, didn't know she had it and didn't know anything about HPV. "It was before the Gardasil commercials, which didn't come out until, I think, 2006," Tronvold said Wednesday.
Rossiter met Alan Evans, a Muscatine dentist, in December 2004. He told her he was free of any sexually transmitted diseases before they started dating. A few days later after having sex with him on Jan. 1, 2005, Evans asked her if she had been tested for HPV.
Rossiter went to her doctor for information and was told there is no general test for HPV and it wasn't necessary since her recent Pap test came back normal, Tronvold said.
The only test on the market is only used as part of a cervical cancer screening, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Tronvold said Rossiter was concerned because of what Evans had asked, so she demanded the test and because her insurance wouldn't cover it, she paid it out of her own pocket.
In April 2005 she learned she could potentially have HPV and she started developing symptoms of the virus, genital warts, in January 2006, according to the lawsuit. An examination of the cervix showed severe dysplasia, abnormal cells on the surface of the cervix, which is a precursor to cancer.
She had a surgical procedure in March 2006, where lesions are cut off the cervix, Tronvold said. Rossiter had multiple cuts of varying tissue sizes. The skin is then cauterized to prevent infection.
Rossiter is symptom free of the virus now but there's no guarantee that it won't come back and she will remain a carrier, Tronvold said. He believes that's why the jury awarded $700,000 for past and future physical and mental pain and suffering, and another $800,000 in punitive damages.
Tronvold said the statements Evans made to Rossiter that he was free of disease and then asked her after sex the specific question about HPV are what likely influenced the jury.
Tim Semelroth, a Cedar Rapids attorney who handles medical-related suits, said in this case Iowa's civil justice system worked. The jury believed Evans "willfully and wantonly disregarded" Rossiter's safety when he infected her.
Semelroth said the amount of the verdict is understandable because the jurors must decide fair compensation for a woman who will have viral outbreaks the rest of her life and live in fear of developing cervical cancer, and also determine the appropriate punishment for Evans who betrayed her trust.