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Tarpeh-Doe v. United States

771 F. Supp. 427 (1991)

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Tarpeh-Doe v. United States

United States District Court for the District of Columbia

771 F. Supp. 427 (1991)

Facts

American citizen Linda Tarpeh-Doe (plaintiff) worked in Liberia for the U.S. Department of State (defendant) when she gave birth to Nyenpan Tarpeh-Doe. The State Department assumed the duty of providing overseas employees with better medical care than that locally available, but negligently supervised the doctor who treated Nyenpan for an illness shortly after birth. Nyenpan suffered debilitating neurological injuries as a result. Tarpeh-Doe moved back to the United States, where Nyenpan lived in a facility with constant and total care. By the time Nyenpan was eight years old, Tarpeh-Doe brought a Federal Tort Claims Act suit to recover damages, including lost income Nyenpan would have earned as an adult. The parties hired experts who disputed Nyenpan’s life expectancy and lost future earnings. Tarpeh-Doe’s expert economist used average income for an American male over a 38-year work life to calculate potential earnings of $1,008,434. The State Department’s expert used lower figures for a black male who did not work his entire life in the United States, because Nyenpan was born in Liberia to a black father. But meanwhile, his father had obtained American citizenship and was working in the States, and Tarpeh-Doe is white. Before reaching its decision, the court asked the State Department economist to calculate average earnings for all American college graduates without regard to gender or race.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Oberdorfer, J.)

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