Published April, 2008

Doe v. Dilling, 888 N.E.2d 24 (Ill. 2008)

An HIV-positive woman accused the parents of her deceased fiancé of fraudulent misrepresentation for not disclosing their son’s HIV status and instead attributing his illness to Lyme disease and heavy metal poisoning. The woman claims that she was infected with HIV by her fiancé and that the representations made by the fiancé’s parents caused her to delay her own HIV testing and treatment, resulting in her development of AIDS. The court, however, declined to expand the tort of fraudulent misrepresentation beyond its historical limitation to commercial and business settings. The court did acknowledge that courts in other states had on occasion allowed claims of fraudulent misrepresentation in cases involving transmission of a sexually transmitted disease, but in those cases the plaintiff had sued the person who actually transmitted the infection, not a third party. The court further held that even if the tort of fraudulent misrepresentation were applicable to the woman’s claim, her reliance on the parents’ representations was not justifiable in light of her education, self-proclaimed knowledge about sexually transmitted infections, and presence at most of her fiancé’s medical appointments.

It is interesting to note that although Illinois has a law that protects the confidentiality of a person’s HIV status in most situations, and would have prevented the fiancé’s parents from making any sort of disclosure about their son’s health status, the court makes only a passing reference to the law as part of an argument in an amicus brief submitted by the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago.