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Hudson AIDS Suit Is Settled : Courts: A $5.5-million award to ex-male lover who was not warned of disease was on appeal. Terms of the accord are not disclosed.

TIMES LEGAL AFFAIRS WRITER

A settlement has been reached in the multimillion-dollar lawsuit by Rock Hudson’s male lover accusing the late actor of concealing the fact that he had contracted AIDS, attorneys said Wednesday.

The settlement was revealed after the state Supreme Court, citing requests by both sides in the dispute, dropped from its docket a pending appeal of a $5.5-million judgment against the Hudson estate which had been recently upheld by a state appellate panel.

Attorneys for the estate and for Marc Christian, 37, the former bartender who brought the suit, confirmed the settlement Wednesday but said they could not divulge any dollar amount involved or other details.

“It was a matter the parties had been discussing and they were able to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement,” said Kent L. Richland, a lawyer for Christian.

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Ellis J. Horvitz, an attorney for the Hudson estate, said he was not directly involved in settlement negotiations and could not say whether there had been a reduction in the award. But Horvitz observed: “Obviously when you’re going to the Supreme Court and there’s a settlement offer for a significant reduction, there’s some incentive to take it.”

The widely publicized case began in 1985 when Christian filed suit, seeking damages for the emotional distress he said he suffered from the fear he had contracted the deadly disease from the late actor. Christian charged that Hudson had conspired with his personal secretary, Mark Miller, to conceal Hudson’s illness. (Miller later reached a settlement with Christian).

Christian testified later that he and Hudson had lived together at Hudson’s Beverly Hills estate before the actor died in 1985 at age 58. The two had engaged in sex for eight months after Hudson was diagnosed as having AIDS--but Hudson never told him about the disease, Christian said. Meanwhile, tests showed Christian had not contracted AIDS.

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury found in 1989 that Hudson had been responsible for “outrageous conduct” and returned a $21.75-million verdict in favor of Christian. But later, Superior Court Judge Bruce R. Geernaert reduced the amount to $5.5 million, saying that the huge award was excessive.

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Last June, a state Court of Appeal in Los Angeles rejected an appeal by the estate, saying that the $5.5-million award was not too large to compensate for the “ultimate in personal horror, the fear of slow, agonizing death.”

In the appeal that was ordered withdrawn Wednesday, attorneys for the estate argued that $5.5 million was far too high in view of the fact that Christian, despite his fear of AIDS, had had 19 tests, all negative.

In reply, lawyers for Christian had urged the high court to allow the award to stand, saying Christian had suffered “extraordinary” emotional distress from a reasonable fear that he had contracted AIDS from Hudson. Experts had advised him that the negative tests were no assurance he could not eventually develop the malady, the attorneys said in court papers.


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