Pastor Ralph Douglas West in Houston ordered to pay $2.45M after found liable for spreading genital herpes

In Harris County, a jury reached a verdict in the case of a Houston area pastor finding him liable for transmitting genital herpes and ordered to pay for damages.

Ralph Douglas West II, an assistant pastor at The Church Without Walls in Houston, was found liable in the case of D.C. v. Ralph Douglas West II for battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and fraudulent concealment.

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The jury's verdict included $1,450,000 in compensatory damages and $1,000,000 in exemplary/punitive damages, resulting in a total of $2.45 million, which is believed to be the largest ever awarded in Texas for a case of this nature.

Shaun Murphy, a partner at the law firm Slovak Baron Empey Murphy & Pinkney, LLP, who represented the plaintiff stated, "We truly hope this verdict sends a strong message to people throughout Texas and the United States who are infected with sexually transmitted diseases that they must disclose having the disease before engaging in sexual intercourse with any others. It is also important for those who have suffered harm after being infected due to another's negligent or intentional conduct to know they have a legal remedy."


This case represents one of several trial victories and settlements achieved by Murphy on behalf of victims of genital herpes transmission in the United States. Notably, it marks the largest verdict not only in Texas but also in the states of California and Washington.

"I suspect there are many people who don't know that in every state in the U.S., it is unlawful for a person who knows they have a sexually transmitted disease to communicate the disease to another person through sexual contact or to even have sexual contact with another person unless they have informed their partner that they are infected with a sexually transmitted disease," Murphy stated. "In fact, it is considered fraud to knowingly endanger another person in this way, which exposes the person who transmits the STD to potential civil liability for substantial monetary damages."