North Carolina recognized the right of a spouse to sue the other for transmission of a venereal disease in a 1920 case, Crowell v. Crowell, 180 N.C. 516, 105 S.E.2d 206 (1920). Since the Crowell decision, there have been no other North Carolina appellate decisions involving domestic tort claims for transmission of sexually transmitted diseases [‘STD”] between spouses.
However, there is a significant body of case law in other states. Claims for tortious transmission of an STD are usually based on negligence (duty of reasonable care) or fraud (duty to disclose). Courts have held that individuals who know (or reasonably should know) that they have such diseases have a duty to either not have sex with their partner or to disclose that they may have the disease beforehand.
Cases involving tort claims for STD transmission may result in substantial settlements or jury awards. Family law practitioners in North Carolina have negotiated settlements in such cases in the several hundred thousand dollars range
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