10 Aug (The Washington Post) – A seven-year court battle in the District over an HIV misdiagnosis ended this week when the Whitman-Walker Clinic quietly settled a $20 million lawsuit by a former patient who was mistakenly told he had the virus. In 2005, Terry Hedgepeth, 52, sued Whitman-Walker because it had mistakenly told him five years earlier that he was HIV-positive. Since then, Hedgepeth, his attorney, Whitman-Walker, and judges in D.C. Superior Court and the D.C. Court of Appeals had been embroiled in legal wrangling.
On Tuesday, just a week before the case was to go to trial in D.C. Superior Court, an agreement was reached. Details of the settlement weren’t disclosed.
“We are happy to settle the case amicably,” said Don Blanchon, Whitman-Walker’s chief executive. He would not comment further on the case.
Hedgepeth’s attorney, Jonathan C. Dailey, said the “case was resolved amicably” and also declined to comment further on the agreement. But Dailey added that the agreement came a year after the D.C. Court of Appeals unanimously ruled in the case that medical patients who are given incorrect information from their doctors about a life-threatening illness can seek recourse through the courts for emotional distress.
That decision, Dailey said, paved the way for the agreement and could open the door for other cases in which doctors mistakenly misdiagnose a patient with a life-threatening illness.
More information about the case is posted here.