Women claims he infected her with STD

Updated: December 2, 2004, 9:07 PM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Jose Lima could have to pay a woman who claims she contracted genital herpes from him as much as $950,000, the woman's attorney said Thursday.

A civil jury this week awarded Michelle E. Rudolph $475,000 for assault and $475,000 for negligence by Lima, attorney Chad Dunn said.

Jose Lima
Starting Pitcher
Los Angeles Dodgers
36 13 5 0 93 4.07

It will be up to state District Judge Tony Lindsay to determine whether Lima has to pay out $475,000 or $950,000 when a final judgment is issued in the case, he said.

Lima's attorney, Raphaell Wilkins, plans to appeal. He says there is no evidence to support the verdict.

"No judgment has been entered at this time," he said. "We are confident that this verdict will be overturned."

Earlier this year, another jury had awarded the woman $15,000, but gave her no money for pain and suffering. A judge then granted her a retrial.

Dunn claims Rudolph and Lima, a former Houston Astros player, dated for about two years before the baseball player took a trip to the Dominican Republic and returned with the incurable virus.

"They had exchanged 'I loved you's' and had enjoyed each other families and company," he said. "This was certainly a long-term relationship."

The woman's last sexual encounter with Lima was on Feb. 16. She was diagnosed with genital herpes on Feb. 21, her attorney said.

Rudolph left almost two dozen phone messages for Lima that went unreturned before she sought the help of an attorney, Dunn said.

Wilkins said the woman never contacted Lima and went straight to hire a lawyer.

"Naturally, once we found that out, we had him tested and it turned out he was positive for the virus," he said.

Lima had no idea he was infected, said Wilkins, who claims 90 percent of people with the virus aren't aware they have been infected.

"It would be deplorable to try and hold him responsible for something he did not know he had," Wilkins said. "He could have easily contracted it from Ms. Rudolph."

Wilkins said he thinks the only reason the lawsuit was filed is because Lima "is a target as a celebrity and national sports figure."

Dunn disputed the claim. He also asserts that most people infected with genital herpes know about it.

Lima, who won 21 games for the Houston Astros in 1999, was traded to the Detroit Tigers in 2001. He had a 13-5 record with a 4.07 ERA last season for the Dodgers. He is a free agent.

Lima, who is married and has a young son, makes his offseason home in Houston.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press