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Agence France-Presse
Mother of AIDS victim ordered to pay two million to son's fiancee

March 4, 2004
CHICAGO, March 4 (AFP) - In what may be a first-of-a-kind verdict, a US jury has awarded two million dollars to a woman who sued her fiance's parents for allegedly covering up the fact that he was dying of AIDS.

The 50-year-old businesswoman, known only as "Jane Doe," was infected through unprotected sex with her fiance, Albert Dilling, in August 1996, according to the woman's attorney.

The woman's lawsuit contended that Dilling, who died of AIDS in November 1999, did not tell her he was infected with HIV, and when questioned, his parents lied about his deteriorating condition.

As he began to look more sickly, "Jane Doe" told his parents: "If I didn't know any better, I'd say this is a guy who looks like he has AIDS," according to Doe's attorney, Hall Adams III.

The suit contended that the parents' misrepresentations prevented the woman from learning that she may have been infected for almost three years, during which time she could have received anti-retroviral medicine to help prevent the HIV infection from developing into AIDS.

"Our claim wasn't that Albert's parents had any duty to volunteer information about their son's medical care," Adams said Wednesday. "But when they took it upon themselves to offer information about their son's condition, they had an obligation to give accurate information."

Dilling's mother, Elizabeth Dilling, 81, contends that although she and her late husband, Kirkpatrick Dilling, paid all of their son's medical bills, they were not aware of the true nature of his illness.

She said doctors had told them their son's deteriorating health was due to heavy-metal poisoning and Lyme disease, and that they did not know their son had been infected with HIV until November 2, 1999 -- just weeks before his death.

Dilling said Wednesday that she plans to appeal the verdict, which was handed down by a jury in a Cook County court on Tuesday.

"I don't think there's another case like it," said Donald Hermann, a professor of law and philosophy at Chicago's DePaul University who researches HIV/AIDS legal cases in the United States.