A divorcing spouse may sue his or her partner for transmission of a sexual disease. As more and more people catch and then transmit sexual diseases, more and more victims, both spouses and unmarried partners, litigate on grounds of cruelty, that is, when one spouse acts “to cause physical or mental damage to the other spouse.”
The failure to alert a partner about the danger of sexually transmitted disease is grounds for divorce because courts consider it a form of cruelty. The risk of sexually transmitted disease increases dramatically when marital infidelity enters the marriage.
Most STD lawsuits, however, are brought under tort law, which mean that the party causing the damaging act can be held liable for damages. A tort happens when a careless or intentional act by one person injures a person or his or her property.
Most plaintiffs in STD actions find that “a lawsuit over sexually transmitted diseases can be extremely hard to litigate, very expensive to pursue, and of little remedy [because] it can be impossible to prove which partner transmitted the disease, since many STDs have no symptoms, it can be difficult to show negligence.”