A Michigan federal judge ordered a mother and father to pay damages after disposing of their adult son’s vast collection of pornography following his divorce.
The judge, Paul L. Maloney, told the defendants Beth werking and Paul Werk pay $ 30,441.54 in “principal” (the value of the collection) and an additional $ 14,519.82 in attorney fees to their son David werk. According to a court document dated August 25, the total sum is $ 44,961.36.
According to court records, the son lived “free rent“With his parents after having lived”in the street for a while. “But he quickly moved from his parents’ house”at the request of local law enforcement” after what court records suggest it was a violent spree involving “throw furniture. “He left behind his assortment of sexually explicit subjects – and his parents got rid of them. The cache, according to a court assessment,” had 2,289 adult films “from the mid-1970s to the mid-2000s .
Maloney J. explained the substance of the dispute in a order dated last November (legal citations omitted):
In October 2016, after divorcing his wife, David Werking moved in with his parents, Paul and Beth Werking David brought personal belongings with him, including a large collection of pornographic material. But in August 2017, tensions between David and his parents were at their height. On August 23, 2017, David called the police after an “incident” and the officers asked David to leave the home for at least three days. When he left, David left much of his property behind; he asked his parents to return the property to him on several occasions over the following months. But on January 1, 2018, Paul informed David that all property that had not yet been returned to him had been destroyed, including the pornographic material.
According to court documents, the mother admitted to destroying the property when contacted by the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office. The father also admitted to destroying the property in an email to his son. The email was reproduced in several previous court documents. Here is a part of it:
I find your whole attitude towards women very disturbing. Women are not objects you can masturbate with, they are people created by God just as you were and should be treated with respect and dignity. I don’t think you’ve listened to me, so let me be very clear. I don’t own your pornography. Let’s go. It was either destroyed or eliminated. I may have missed a few items that are now in your possession, but at this point, if you don’t have it, it’s gone. Ditto for your sextoys and dirty magazines.
The email went on to say that the parents had allowed their son to return home after the son’s wife endured “ten years” of alleged “abuse”. The woman apparently kicked the son on the sidewalk, and he was living “on the streets for a while” when the parents allowed him in, the emails say. The parents asked the son not to bring any sexual material with him. He did it anyway, according to the emails:
We weren’t surprised that you lied to us about porn because you lied to us every day about other things during the ten months you lived with us. However, we were amazed at the extent of the lie. We counted twelve moving boxes full of pornography plus two boxes of “sex toys” as you call them. We started that day the process of destroying them and it took some time to do so.
[ . . . ]
Frankly, David, I’ve done you a great service by getting rid of all this for you. If you are smart you will get advice [sic] and give up your porn addiction. However, if you really want to totally ruin what’s left of your life, go ahead and pursue me by all means.
The father indicated in messages that he was concerned that some of the material contained “child pornography”. He also has said to his son that such material could result in “a very serious prison sentence of more than 20 years”. But the son’s lawyer indicated in court this “[n]one of the goods was illegal in nature.
a email even earlier from Paul Werking to David, his son, said: “[b]Believe it or not, one of the reasons I destroyed your porn was for your own mental and emotional health.
The son retaliated via another email.
“The[‘]There is plenty of porn on the internet if you wanna watch that daddy “son wrote while providing several examples of online pornography sites. “Believe me, I know you need it with mom around.”
The son noted he also “needed” it with his ex-wife “around”.
“In the meantime, for me, there are students waiting to be turned into women,” the son also said. wrote.
Then he required that his material be returned.
And a trial followed.
The son sought compensation and filed a lawsuit alleging there was only one “claim,” the judge noted: “statutory conversion under Michigan law.” The case ended up in federal court on competence in diversity. The son had moved to Indiana, and when residents of different states continue, their cases can be heard under certain circumstances – typically when the controversy is over $ 75,000.
The parents argued that their son had made no valid claims and that the case should be closed without notice. The judge disagreed and viewed the case as a fairly straightforward matter involving direct application of Michigan law at the center of the litigation. The judge concluded:
In this case, there is no doubt that the destroyed property was David’s property. The defendants have repeatedly admitted that they destroyed the property, and they do not dispute that they destroyed the property. Therefore, the Court concludes that there is no real dispute of material fact regarding David’s request for legal conversion. As such, summary judgment. . . seems appropriate.
The judge disagreed with the parents’ arguments that (1) they were the owner of their son for a period of time; (2) that their son assumed the risk of the material being thrown away; (3) that the son has abandoned the property; and (4) lack of attenuation. A paragraph discussing each of these alleged defenses rushed through the arguments one by one.
Earlier in the case, the son’s lawyer, Miles L. Greengard from Grand Haven, Michigan, wrote as follows with regard to the actions of the parents:
While it is likely that the defendants believed that in their conversion of the property they were doing their son a favor – misguided love is not an affirmative defense. This Court should conclude accordingly and order a damages hearing so that the plaintiff can be compensated.
And, somewhere else:
Despite the self-proclaimed noble intentions of the Defendants Paul Werking, due to these personal uses of the destroyed and converted property, the Defendants maintain their liability under Michigan Legal Conversion Act and the United States. [previous] while carrying[s].
Previous court documents indicate that the parents were clearly “upset” by the collection of charcoal that was hoisted on their property by their son. But those altruistic concerns – which the son’s lawyer duly noted – were dropped in court.
After concluding that the son’s arguments prevailed in law, the judge ordered the discovery to determine the precise value of the so-called coal. This resulted in a formal assessment prepared by Dr. Victoria hartmann – who describes himself as having a “Doctorate in Human Sexuality (DHS)” and a “Ph.D. in Human Sexuality with an emphasis on clinical sexology” – as well as the person in charge of a sex museum in Las Vegas. The assessment took into account the following:
The question of the value of pornography continues to be hotly debated both in popular culture and in academia. Does pornography have a value? If so, how do you determine such a thing? Does it have intrinsic value, or are we basing the value of pornography simply from a financial perspective – taking into account the cost of production, the cost of distribution, and the cost to the customer of buying a movie? .
The appraisal came in at a price of $ 30,441.54 plus or minus about $ 3,000 for the collection. The core value is what the judge ordered the parents to pay. The son originally sought $ 76,673.67 plus legal fees.
A lawyer for the parents did not immediately respond to an email from Law & Crime questioning the couple’s possible next steps.
[illustration image via MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images]
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