He Did Not Tell Me

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Q: After four years of marriage, I became a widow.  Going through the papers, I realized that, early on, my husband had tested positive for a virus.  A year later, he had been diagnosed with a rare syndrome.  Johnnie had never told me.  I did not even learn that he suffered from this syndrome until a month before he left this world.

Several years have passed.  The estate is still open.  His sister said that he had changed his will.  She says that she finally found it: leaves his fortune to her.  I don’t recognize the signature.

My doctor is certain that I never got that virus.  I have much to be grateful for.  But my blood continues to boil that I was exposed and that he did not tell me.

When I discovered that my husband was very sick and had never even informed me of what was going on, I was extremely upset.  I felt betrayed.  I became depressed.  This became a triple whammy: anger at being deceived, frustration at not being allowed to help and grief over his loss.  While I have made progress in therapy, these feelings continue to come up and churn within.

A: Apart from the so-called new will, there is a question of whether you have a viable claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.  You have not told me whether, and when, your husband did something that caused him to become sick.  For simplicity’s sake, I will assume that the virus came to your husband through no fault of his own, and that his only fault (if any) was in not telling you.

For you to succeed, a jury must find that his not telling you was ‘extreme and outrageous’.  It must find that your husband intended to cause severe emotional distress or disregarded a ‘substantial probability’ of causing it – not so easy to prove.  In addition, you must indeed have suffered severe emotional distress.  The jury must find a ‘causal connection’ between your husband’s not telling you and the distress.

This is a sobering story.  I’m glad that you have kept your physical health.  Good luck.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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