Testy: The 5th District Court of Appeals last week sided with the Dallas Observer and rejected a civil suit filed by a man who claimed we violated state law by revealing that he is HIV-positive. Roger Stanley, a worker at the Cathedral of Hope, had sought in excess of--get this--$1 billion because we named him and revealed his HIV status in our December 4, 2003, cover story Fallen Angel. The story, by reporter J.D. Sparks, detailed allegations of mismanagement at the church, including a claim that church leaders had sought to add Stanley to the church's employee health-insurance plan even though he was a volunteer at the church and ineligible.
It may seem vindictive of Buzz to name Stanley again here--he had filed his lawsuit as a John Doe to obscure his identity--but it's not, really. Stanley, we found out after he filed his suit, was a member of Positive Voices, an all-HIV-positive chorale group whose CDs, sold at the Cathedral of Hope, included Stanley's name and photo on one of the liners. Apparently Stanley wasn't shy about revealing his status, he just didn't want us to do it. Some folks get so tetchy when their names pop up in the pages of the Observer. Lord knows why. In fact, we hear through the grapevine that no one at the Cathedral of Hope was particularly happy with Sparks' story. Now, a suspicious mind might conclude that the church's discontent with us could be a clue as to who paid the bills for Stanley's somewhat ridiculous suit. But Buzz doesn't deal with scurrilous speculation, so we won't suggest that the whole lawsuit was cooked up as a bit of payback for our publishing a critical story. Nope, we just won't go there.
In an opinion written by Justice Mark Whittington, a three-judge panel on the court ruled that since we didn't possess Stanley's test, didn't even know whether he had been tested and had no knowledge of or connection to his medical care, the law against revealing HIV test results didn't apply to us.
So that's good news for us. It's not so good for you, however. See, to cover a billion-dollar-plus judgment would have meant a lot of bake sales at the Observer, and Buzz has a cream-cheese chocolate muffin recipe that is to die for--and a steal at only $10,000 per muffin. --Patrick Williams
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