Court Orders Former San Francisco Health Commissioner to Pay Ex-Lover $5M for Knowingly Exposing Him to HIV
San Francisco Superior Court Commissioner Loretta Norris has ordered Ronald Hill, a former San Francisco health commissioner, to pay his ex-lover $5 million in damages for knowingly exposing him to HIV and lying about his HIV status, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The judgment, which is "one of the largest awards of its kind," was handed down four weeks ago but made public yesterday. In the civil lawsuit, Hill's former lover Thomas Lister charged that Hill knew he had HIV and repeatedly lied about his condition. Lister eventually discovered Hill's HIV status in a medical document after the two had engaged in unprotected sex. Lister tested positive for HIV in October 2000 and confronted Hill about his infection, but Hill continued to deny that he was HIV-positive. The suit also alleged that Hill, who was appointed by Mayor Willie Brown to the health commission in 1997 "in part to represent people with [HIV]," was suffering from symptoms of AIDS but told Lister he had cancer. Knowingly infecting another person with HIV is a felony in California. So far, no criminal charges have been filed against Hill, but Lister said he will "press" for action, adding that he felt vindicated by the award. "For me it's a personal validation of the truth, finally. Of course, the extraordinary dollar amount was courageous on the part of the judge, to make a strong statement that this is very wrong," Lister said (Koury, San Jose Mercury News, 3/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.