HIV Victim’s Suit Against Newspaper Continues

The Houston Chronicle is reporting:

DALLAS — A state district court judge rejected a bid by an alternative weekly newspaper to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a church volunteer who said the paper reported without his permission that he was HIV-positive.

The ruling Wednesday could clear the way for a trial. The judge did not set a trial date.

The plaintiff is seeking $550,000 to $1.1 billion in damages against The Dallas Observer, charging that the newspaper violated a Texas confidentiality law. The law forbids disclosing medical test results without a patient’s written consent, except to government health agencies.

The man, named John Doe in the lawsuit, sued the newspaper; its parent company, Phoenix-based New Times Inc.; J.D. Sparks, a freelancer who wrote the article; and Jean Morris, the former church official who told the newspaper that the man was HIV-positive.

Lawyers for the newspaper said the law was intended to apply to hospitals and insurance companies, not news organizations. They also said that the man had already disclosed his HIV status by letting his picture and name appear on a CD by Positive Voices, an openly HIV-positive chorale group.

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