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Copyright (c) 1972 Tulane University
Tulane Law Review

NOTE: Torts--Damages--Rrcovery of Child Support for "Wrongful Birth"

December, 1972

Tulane Law Review

47 Tul. L. Rev. 225


Richard L. Epstein


Plaintiffs, John and Dorothy Troppi, parents of seven children, decided to limit the size of their large family. Upon consultation with their physician, the Troppis elected to employ oral contraception to insure that Mrs. Troppi would bear no more children. The physician telephoned his prescription for an oral contraceptive to defendant, a licensed pharmacist. In filling the prescription, defendant negligently supplied Mrs. Troppi with a tranquilizer instead of the prescribed birth control pills. Believing the pills to be contraceptives, Mrs. Troppi took them as instructed and maintained normal conjugal relations with her husband. As a consequence, she gave birth to an unplanned, and originally unwanted, eighth child. Plaintiffs subsequently brought a negligence action against defendant pharmacist to recover the costs of childbirth 1 and the expenses of rearing their eighth child to the age of majority. Summarily dismissing the complaint, the trial judge ruled that plaintiffs had suffered no damage as a matter of law, because their alleged damages were more than offset by the "benefits" of parenthood. The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, holding that the benefits of an unplanned child do not necessarily preclude recovery for the expenses of rearing the child. 2 The court found the trier of fact competent to weigh the benefits against the financial burdens of parenthood and to assess damages accordingly. Troppi v. Scarf, 187 N.W.2d 511 (Mich. App. 1971).

The noted case is significant both for its legal analysis and its ...
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