The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Mexico recently issued an opinion on what is not necessarily a monetary issue but certainly a sensitive one. In that case, the Debtor, a software analyst, who the Court found to be “educated, intelligent and articulate” had been married twice and had a couple of issues from his past, including HSV-II (genital herpes). Directly prior to having sex with his new partner, who was soon to be a Plaintiff in an adversary proceeding under Bankruptcy Court, she asked him, “Do you have anything I need to worry about?” He responded “Oh, gosh, no.” In fact, he had herpes and passed it onto the Plaintiff. Later, for obvious reasons, the couple broke up. Mr. Software Analyst filed bankruptcy. The Plaintiff, who had to change jobs because the stress related to herpes’ flare-ups, sued for non-dischargeability.
The Court, although belaboring the point while examining each the Plaintiff’s causes of action, concluded (properly) that the Debtor’s complete, reckless disregard constituted “willful and malicious injury” to the Plaintiff. The extent of the non-dischargeable debt was $49,000.00, including punitive damages. The Court found that the Debtor’s actions constituted a battery under law and could not be discharged, a proper result.
Bolles v. Nelson is not really new law but is an example of the reach of non-dischargeability in Chapter 7 cases.