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California Briefing / Los Angeles County

Suit settled on autopsy of HIV skeptics' child

March 06, 2009|Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Los Angeles County has reached a $15,000 legal settlement with the husband of Christine Maggiore, the late activist who rejected medical opinions that HIV causes AIDS.

Maggiore and her husband, Robin Scovill, sued the county two years ago for allegedly violating their late 3-year-old daughter's civil rights by releasing an autopsy report that listed her cause of death as AIDS-related pneumonia. Eliza Jane Scovill had never been tested for HIV, and the couple argued that her death was not AIDS-related. They hired a private pathologist who said she had died of an allergic reaction to the antibiotic amoxicillin.

The lawsuit demanded up to $10,000 for each violation of Eliza Jane's right to privacy, plus unspecified damages. Lawyers for the county and Scovill reached an agreement Feb. 26. Neither side returned phone calls on the matter Thursday.

Maggiore was diagnosed with HIV in 1992 and died at her Van Nuys home Dec. 27, 2008, at age 52. She promoted her views in a book, "What If Everything You Thought You Knew About AIDS Was Wrong?"

Maggiore gave birth to Eliza Jane and her older son, Charlie, at home and breast-fed both, although research indicates breast-feeding increases the risk of HIV transmission. Maggiore also opposed the use of AZT, a drug that studies have shown reduces the risk of HIV transmission from pregnant mothers to their babies. After Eliza Jane's death, Los Angeles police investigated whether Maggiore and Scovill were criminally negligent in not testing the girl for HIV, but prosecutors decided against filing charges, noting that Maggiore had sought medical advice.

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske

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