Texas Jury Enters a $2.45 Million Verdict Against Houston-Area Pastor for Transmitting Herpes

Local Attorney Scores Major Victory for Herpes Victim

Shaun Murphy

PALM SPRINGS — Shaun Murphy, a partner in the Coachella Valley-based law firm SBEMP recently secured a historic $2.45 million verdict for his client in a trial that took place in Houston, Texas. The defendant was found liable for transmitting genital herpes when he knew he had it and lied about it, thus infecting Murphy’s client, a Houston resident.

The verdict has ramifications for herpes victims throughout the nation.

The verdict against Ralph Douglas West II, a Houston resident and an assistant pastor at The Church Without Walls also located in Houston, is one of several major trial victories and settlements Murphy has achieved on behalf of victims of genital herpes transmission throughout the U.S. In fact, he has achieved the largest verdict in this type of case in the United States and in the states of California, Washington, and Texas.

The jury, in D.C. v. Ralph Douglas West II (Cause No. 2020-18991), found West liable to the plaintiff for battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and fraudulent concealment. The jury’s award was $1,450,000 in compensatory damages and $1,000,000 in exemplary/punitive damages. The total judgment of $2.45 million is believed to be the largest ever awarded in Texas for a case of this nature.

Murphy said he is pleased with the outcome for his client whose life has been so negatively impacted, and he hopes that it will increase awareness of this extremely important issue.

“Let this verdict send a resounding message across Texas and the entire nation: Those with sexually transmitted diseases must disclose their status before engaging in sexual activity,” Murphy said in a statement. “In every U.S. state, it’s illegal to transmit STDs without informed consent. It is considered fraud, carrying potential civil liability for significant damages.”

In addition to the legal issues, Murphy points to the physical and mental health challenges suffered by victims of such negligent behavior. “Those harmed by others’ negligence or intent have legal recourse, particularly as STDs like herpes can cause serious health complications beyond the core symptoms of the disease. There can also be considerable embarrassment, shame, and stigma associated with a herpes diagnosis that can substantially interfere with a patient’s relationships and mental well-being for the rest of their lives.”

For more information about Shaun Murphy, visit https://sbemp.com/shaun-murphy/.


Image Sources

  • Judge’s gavel on pile of money: Shutterstock