Martin v. Ziherl

607 S.E.2d 367 (2005)

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Martin v. Ziherl

Virginia Supreme Court
607 S.E.2d 367 (2005)

Facts

Muguet Martin (plaintiff) and Kristopher Ziherl (defendant) had a sexual relationship from October 2001 through November 2003. Martin was diagnosed with herpes in June 2003. Martin sued Ziherl for intentional torts and negligence, alleging that Ziherl knew he had an infectious disease when the two had sexual relations and did not tell Martin that he had the disease. A Virginia statute criminalized extramarital sexual relationships, and under Virginia common law, a consenting party to an illegal act could not recover resulting damages from another party to the act. Ziherl’s demurrer therefore alleged that because Martin’s injuries occurred while she was engaged in an illegal act, Martin could not recover damages and therefore had not stated a claim upon which relief could be granted. The trial court agreed with Ziherl, finding that valid reasons, such as an interest in protecting the public’s health and discouraging the birth of children outside of marriage, existed to support the statute, so the statute was constitutional. Martin appealed, arguing that the reasoning in Lawrence v. Texas applied and that Virginia’s criminalization of sexual relations between unmarried people was unconstitutional.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Lacy, J.)

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