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Duke v. Housen

Supreme Court of Wyoming
589 P.2d 334 (Wyo.), cert denied, 444 U.S. 863 (1979)


Margaret Housen (plaintiff) met “Pony” Duke (defendant) in Washington, D.C. The two began dating and having sexual intercourse in April 1970. That month, Housen accompanied Duke as he drove a truck from New York to Colorado. Housen engaged in sexual intercourse with Duke in various states along the way. After the trip was over, Duke ended the relationship with Housen and returned to his home in Wyoming. Duke and Housen briefly reconciled, traveled back to New York, and engaged in a final act of sexual intercourse. The following morning Duke informed Housen for the first time that he had gonorrhea and was receiving medical treatment for the condition. Two days later, Housen visited her personal physician in Washington, D.C. and learned that she had contracted the disease. In early 1973, Housen began to experience abdominal pain. Exploratory surgery performed in July 1973 revealed abdominal adhesions that would likely form for the remainder of Housen’s life. In April, 1974, Housen filed a negligence suit in Wyoming state court against Duke seeking damages and recovery for medical expenses. Duke claimed that Housen’s complaint was barred by the statute of limitations in the state where Housen’s injury occurred. The trial court disagreed and concluded that Wyoming’s four-year statute of limitations began to run upon the discovery of Housen’s adhesions. The trial court affirmed the jury’s verdict in favor of Housen and awarding her $1.3 million in damages. Duke appealed, arguing that the trial court should have applied the statute of limitations of the state where the injury occurred.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Raper, C.J.)

Concurrence (Thomas, J.)

Dissent (McClintock, J.)

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