A US$15 million civil suit that made US headlines in February (but which I did not report on my blog at the time) that alleged that a well-known US baseball player “knew or should have known” that he was HIV-positive and accused him of “gross and wanton negligence” for repeatedly refusing to undergo testing while allegedly exposing his ex-girlfriend to HIV, was settled out of court this week.
According to MLB.com (the Major League Baseball website):
Ilya Dall, 31, filed the lawsuit in court in Brooklyn, N.Y., in January, alleging that the former Major Leaguer tested HIV-positive in February 2006. [He] denied those allegations, saying he was in good health and that her suit was made to “hurt” him and that it was “full of lies.”
According to The Associated Press, an order from a judge Tuesday said a settlement had been reached before the two were scheduled to appear Friday for an initial conference in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.
“The complaint was withdrawn, which means the lawsuit was withdrawn with prejudice,” Charles Bach, who represents [the baseball player], told ESPN.com. “That speaks for itself. It is over.”
According to an earlier story in The New York Times, her motivation may have been his decision to sell the house she and her two children, from a previous relationship, were living in, after their break-up last autumn.
There was never any question that he did not disclose his status after he allegedly tested HIV-positve, nor that she was infected.
The suit may have been influenced by the case of Bridget B. and John B. which made headlines in July 2006 when the California state supreme court ruled that people can be sued for transmitting HIV to a sexual partner, even if they don’t know their HIV status. The case was last heard in November 2008 when a Los Angeles judge tentatively ruled that John B. acted with fraud and malice and ordered him to pay his former wife US$5 million in future loss of earnings and US$7.5 million in general damages. He had previously ruled that Bridget B. had justifiably trusted her husband until she had a reason not to.
Legal Dispute Hinges on Whether Alomar Has H.I.V.
A lawyer for the former major leaguer Roberto Alomar on Wednesday dismissed the merits of a lawsuit by Alomar’s former girlfriend, who said that Alomar continued to have unprotected sex with her despite being infected with the virus that causes AIDS.
Ilya Dall, 31, of Queens is demanding $15 million in punitive damages, according to papers filed Monday in federal court in Brooklyn. The suit claims that Alomar, 41, knew or should have known that he was H.I.V. positive and accused him of “gross and wanton negligence” for repeatedly refusing to undergo testing, even as Dall said he developed several symptoms linked to H.I.V. and AIDS.
“We believe this is a totally frivolous lawsuit,” Alomar’s lawyer, Luke Pittoni, said in a telephone interview. “These allegations are baseless. He’s healthy and would like to keep his health status private.”
Pittoni declined to add or clarify any details, and Alomar could not be reached for comment. Calls to Dall’s cellphone and to her lawyer, Anthony Piancentini, were not returned.
Alomar, a career .300 hitter and a 12-time All-Star, began dating Dall in 2002 when he played for the Mets.
At the time, Dall was working as a massage therapist. She was never an employee of the team. A friend of Alomar’s, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Alomar had not given him permission to discuss his personal life, said that the couple lived together in a lavish house in the Whitestone section of Queens for about seven years, until they split up in the fall.
The friend added that Alomar allowed Dall to stay in the house with her two children from a previous marriage until he recently decided to sell it.
Records showed a Queens address for Dall, but it was not apparent whether it was for the house in question.
As the case develops, it could highlight the issue of H.I.V. testing in baseball, which is sometimes a part of the annual physicals that all players have. According to the suit, the first suggestion of H.I.V. came in 2005. The suit contended that, in 2006, Alomar was found to have full-blown AIDS.
H.I.V. testing has been a part of any insured contract in baseball for at least a decade. It is unclear whether Alomar’s contracts were insured.
Alomar’s joining the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, as they were then known, in 2005 was the last chapter of a 17-year career that at one time seemed to have him on the fast track to the Hall of Fame. He will be on the Hall ballot next winter as a candidate for induction with the class of 2010.
A complete player who could hit, field and run, Alomar had only one blemish on his record during the first part of his career, an ugly spitting incident with Umpire John Hirschbeck in 1996.
After he joined the mediocre Mets in 2002, Alomar’s play took a sharp turn for the worse. At 34, he was expected to be productive, but everything that contributed to his .336 batting average, 100 runs batted in and 20 homers the previous season in Cleveland deserted him. In his single full season with the Mets, his output plummeted to a .266 average, 11 home runs and 53 R.B.I.
Underperforming and unhappy in New York, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox midway through the 2003 season.
He signed as a free agent with the Diamondbacks to start the 2004 season, but Arizona traded him to the White Sox during the season. By the time the Devil Rays broke spring training in 2005, Alomar had quit the game at age 37.