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lawsuit and confidentiality
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lawsuit and confidentiality

My x roommate is threatening to take me to court because I didn't tell her I had HEPC.
She moved out of the apartment within 24 hours and I kept the security deposit because
I was left without a roommate for the entire month.
It is my understanding that I am under no obligation to tell anyone except my a husband
or boyfriend and my doctors.
Does she have a case against me?
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8 Comments Post a Comment
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151263_tn?1243377877
I'm not a lawyer, but if you weren't having a physical relationship with this person you are under no moral or legal obligation to tell her about your hep C. Do you have a written/signed renter's contract with her and does it specify that the security deposit will be forfeited if sufficient notice is not provided prior to moving out? If you do have that, she's blowing smoke up your a$$ if she's trying to tell you she'll take you to court. I mean she can try, but I seriously doubt anything will come of it. If you had been having sex with her and especially if you gave her HCV without disclosing, then that might be something she could go after you for. Otherwise if she abruptly walked out on you without giving sufficient notice simply due to her ignorance about how HCV is transmitted, in my opinion that's her problem.
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Avatar_f_tn
You are not obligated to tell your roommate about your illness.

You will have a problem if you keep her security deposit.  In New York a security deposit can be used to repair any damage she did to the physical property but you cannot keep it because she moved out without notice.  If she owes you rent you can sue her in small claims court, and if you have a written rental agreement or lease you can get a court to enforce its terms but you cannot keep her security deposit in lieu of rent.

Document your attempts to get a new roommate so you can show a court your good faith efforts.

Good luck.  
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Avatar_m_tn
Legally, I doubt you even have to notify your boyfriend or doctor and certainly not your roommate. Of course, I'm not a lawyer, and you might want to consult one, or do some independent research. As to the security deposit, etc, -- def check with a real estate attorney to see what laws/statues are governing where you live.

-- Jim
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Avatar_f_tn
I AM a lawyer, admitted in NY and the federal courts.  Hope this helps.
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Avatar_m_tn
what about this scenerio, she is sharing the same bathroom and happens to use the Hep C persons toothbrush by mistake or they happen to have the same kind of razor and she uses it not knowing and gets HCV. i would think there has to be  some liability there and had every right to move out because of fear.  not that i agree with this stigma but unfortunately this is how society perceives hepatitis c. not really the roommates fault this is just how she was taught to think about diseases. give her back the security deposit.
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233616_tn?1312790796
I'm sorry you are having to go through this. Since when it comes to both AIDS/HIV and HCV they are both thought of, for good reason, as life threatening illnesses what you got from your roomate was a fairly typical human paniced reaction. Doesn't make it easy, but at least understandable.

Leaving aside the legalities, the morally right thing to do will vary depending on who you ask.
There's no definite "you have no moral duty" that can be pronounced over this chiefly because morality, be definition, is an interpretive effervesance sipped through a myriad of different flavored straws of convictions. Ones personal values and understanding of God and of "doing unto others as you would wish them to do unto you" inform our actions and decisions as to who and when to inform others.
While right now this may not be much comfort, but none the less:
I think what you did was the right thing in telling her, only because of what copyman said being true. There is a lot of ignorance about the disease, and while it is hard it is not impossible to transmit and a lot of people freak when hearing of this disease....a lot of HCV people do lose their jobs, friends etc. especially where medical ignorance is pronounced in people.

Certainly someone who is around you should know in order not to accidentally use a razor or perhaps just them not recognizing and taking caution with a blood injury you may suffer in their presense, etc.
I think it may be better to think in terms of what not telling would mean. I'd rather educated a friend, but risk losing them, than to keep them in ignorance and them to think later that I was putting them at unnessary risk, or for them to think I was risking their health.
Better you suffer this loss now than to have someone sick later and thinking they got it from your non-disclosure.
While we do know this HCV is not that transmittable, and your coworkers are safe and do not need to be warned, there is a vast difference between that type contact and what a roomate may inadvertantly be exposed to. With information knowledge they can avoid those few pitfalls, it's what you would want someone else to do for you.

I remember how angry I was when I discovered someone had mono and did not tell me, and gave it to my kid, and we all handled her dishes and were exposed. That virus is much more contageious, and it was wrong for the person to expose everyone without their knowledge or consent.

Maybe that's part of why I tell everyone now....it was awful when someone did not tell us.
This virus is not that easy to catch, not like mono, but your friend undoubtedly does not know that.
Maybe you need to go legal, but it tends to cause more grief than it solves most times.
My recommendation is you try to forgive her. She isn't trying to hurt you, only fearing for her own life and health.
It might even be a good idea for you to think in terms of downsizing your expenses in terms of more frugal digs in preparation for an upcoming treatment that may put a stain on any living situation. So, in the end maybe she did you a favor in that you can now reevaluate what will best work going forward and make needful changes now, before getting into what for most of us is an ordeal of long duration. We all need to really have a stable affordable living arrangement that doesn't change when we are in the midst of chemotherapy.
Best wishes to you.
MaryB
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Avatar_f_tn
Your info has been very helpful!
I have been unable to find out what the laws in NY are.
There was no written agreement.
I was extremely kind to this women! I feel sorry for ignorant people.
I am also a Buddhist. I allowed her to spend the night in the apt.
Made lunch for her the next day and waited for her friend to pick her up that evening.
She offered to pay for the night she spent but I said that I would keep the deposit until
I found a new roommate, which didn't happen.
I am going through divorce and have a lawyer for that and can't afford another one right now.
Thanks Again!

Hariha
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Avatar_f_tn
Go to www.lshv.org and look at the landlord-tenant section. If you speak to anyone there, ask if the "Ryan White" law covers your situation. I don't know where in NY you are, but if you are in or near the city there may be free legal representation available to you.  Good luck.

I too feel sorry for your roommate, burdened as she is with fear and ignorance.
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