First-date kiss ends in R2.8m claim over cold sore
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London - At first, the date had been going well and even led to a kiss on the lips.
But within days, Martin Conway felt ill and found he had a cold sore.
Now he is suing his date, Jovanna Lovelace, for £130 000 (about R2.8 million), accusing her of negligence in passing on the infection, caused by the herpes simplex virus.
It was only after they kissed, when her make-up started coming off, that Miss Lovelace revealed she had a cold sore, the personal trainer claimed.
Mr Conway, 45, said that since contracting the virus, which remains in the skin for life, he has been left traumatised. He alleges it has blighted his personal and professional life.
His claim before Central London county court said: "I was kissed before I was informed of any cold sore." He has accused Miss Lovelace of failing in her "moral, ethical and legal duty" by not telling him about the cold sore before they kissed.
She has dismissed the claim as frivolous and vexatious.
Mr Conway, of Paddington, west London, said he contacted Miss Lovelace, who is in her 30s, online through Meetup.com.
He said he developed flu-like symptoms and mouth ulcers within days of the date on July 4 last year. He claims he had to be taken to hospital after suffering a panic attack and will need long-term counselling.
In his claim form, Mr Conway said Miss Lovelace invited him out. "Later that evening, after sharing intimate kisses already, she informed me, as her make-up was coming off, that she had a cold sore," he said.
"I had no knowledge of cold sores having never been infected with them before [and] was not aware of the contagious nature of cold sores."
He found it "extremely distressing" when ulcers began spreading in his mouth days later, making eating painful. He went to hospital and was diagnosed with herpes simplex and given medication. A panic attack days later led to him being taken to St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, by ambulance.
Mr Conway said: "My illness was worsening and I was unable to eat or leave my apartment."
He claims he can no longer go cycling, as he worries that the heat and stress will cause a flare-up, and that the cold sore virus leaves him at long-term risk of more serious illness.
Mr Conway, who is studying law, said his relationship with Miss Lovelace swiftly broke down. "I was upset, angry and very confused," he said. "I wanted justice and it was then I decided to take legal action.
"I did not freely enter into the risks. The respondent owed me a duty of care – a harm was reasonably foreseeable."
His claim includes more than £100 000 for fortnightly therapy sessions until he is 79.
Miss Lovelace disputes Mr Conway’s account and calls the case "an abuse of the process of the court". Her legal response denies liability, asks for the claim to be struck out, and adds: "This action is frivolous and vexatious. The statement of case discloses no reasonable grounds for bringing the claim."
The case reached court briefly in February and will return for a further hearing later.