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Edmonds v. United States

June 30, 2008

SIBEL EDMONDS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rosemary M. Collyer United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Sibel Edmonds brought this suit against her former employer, the United States (the "Government"), alleging intentional conversion under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2671-2680 (the "FTCA").*fn1 The Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") employed Ms. Edmonds as a civilian linguist. She accused another employee of misconduct, and she complained of alleged security breaches. The FBI subsequently terminated Ms. Edmonds's employment. Ms. Edmonds alleges that when she was fired she was not permitted to retrieve her personal property and thus the Government improperly retained (intentionally converted) three family photographs belonging to her. The Government has conceded liability, but contests damages.

The issue of damages was tried to the Court on May 20, 2008. Based on the entire record including the parties' pretrial and post-trial briefs, the parties' exhibits and stipulations, and the testimony of the sole witness, Ms. Edmonds, the Court concludes that the Government must pay damages to Ms. Edmonds to compensate for the special value of the first two missing photographs and to compensate for the nominal value of the third photograph. Judgment will be entered in favor of Ms. Edmonds in the amount of $5,005.00.

I. FINDINGS OF FACT

1. Sibel Edmonds is a U.S. citizen of Turkish descent, and she is fluent in English, Turkish, and Farsi. Compl. ¶ 8; Tr. at 24.*fn2

2. She was employed by the FBI as a contract translator starting in September 2001. Am. Compl. at 2.

3. On March 22, 2002, the FBI terminated Ms. Edmonds's employment.*fn3 Id.

4. FBI employees escorted Ms. Edmonds from the building and did not permit her to retrieve personal items from her desk, which included three photographs of her father. Id.

5. On July 27, 2006, Ms. Edmonds filed an Amended Complaint [Dkt. # 24] alleging that the Government intentionally converted the three photos of her father, Dr. Rasim Deniz, designated as Photograph One, Photograph Two, and Photograph Three.

6. The Government did not contest liability with respect to the claim for loss of the three photos, but did contest the amount of damages to be awarded. See Def.'s Notice of No Contest [Dkt. # 25] filed Aug. 11, 2006; Stipulations [Dkt. # 49] ("Stip.") # 1.

7. Photograph One was a black and white photo of Dr. Deniz in his school uniform in ninth grade at the time of his acceptance into a high school called Darolfonun in Iran. Am. Comp. at 2;*fn4 Tr. at 27-28.

8. Darolfonun High School was a school for gifted but underprivileged children. Tr. at 28.

9. Photograph One was taken around 1948 or 1949. Tr. at 54. It measured three by five inches or five by seven inches and was in good condition, without cracks or tears. Tr. at 54-55.

10. Photograph Two was a photo of Dr. Deniz receiving a silver medal at a track meet when he was approximately seventeen years old. Am. Compl. at 2;*fn5 Tr. at 27.

11. Pictured in Photograph Two were Dr. Deniz and the Minister of Education who presented the medal, which was awarded formally by the Shah of Iran. Tr. at 28.

12. Photograph Two was taken sometime between 1951 and 1953. Tr. at 54. It measured approximately two by four inches in size and was in good condition with a sepia tone. Tr. at 55. The borders were torn, but the photo was not. Id.

13. Ms. Edmonds has more than one hundred thirty (130) other photos of her father, see Stip. ## 8-27, but no other photos of her father's high school years. Tr. at 30-31 & 52-53. She believes that there are no other such photos in existence. Id.

14. Photograph Three was a picture of Dr. Deniz at Ms. Edmonds's wedding in 1992. Tr. at 29.*fn6 It was taken by Ms. Edmonds's husband at no cost to Ms. Edmonds. Stip. # 7.

15. Ms. Edmonds has many photos from her wedding, and she has the negatives of such photos; thus, she did not place any special value on ...


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