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Branford v. Washington County

United States District Court, D. Oregon

May 15, 2018


          Daniel Snyder, Carl Post, and John David Burgess, Law Offices of Daniel Snyder, Of Attorneys for Plaintiff.

          Karen O'Kasey, Hart Wagner LLP, Of Attorneys for Defendants Washington County, Pat Garrett, and John Black.

          Andrea R. Barraclough, Portland City Attorney's Office, Of Attorneys for Defendants City of Portland and Jeffrey Myers.

          Jonathan Christensen, pro se.


          Michael H. Simon, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Angela Branford (“Branford”) is a Deputy Sheriff in the Washington County Sheriff's Office (“WCSO”). Branford brings this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Oregon state law against Defendants Washington County, Oregon (“Washington County” or the “County”); Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett; WCSO employees or former employees Jonathan Christensen and John Black; the City of Portland (the “City”); and Portland Police Bureau Detective (“PPB”) Jeffrey Myers. For purposes of this Opinion and Order, Defendants Washington County, Pat Garrett, and John Black are collectively referred to as “Defendants.” Before the Court is Defendants' motion to strike six changes (or “corrections”) that Plaintiff has made to her deposition testimony. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion is denied.


         In her First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges the following facts against Washington County, Pat Garrett, John Black, and John Christensen. The Washington County Sheriff's Office tolerates, and subjects female employees to, sexual misconduct by male officers. During or before 2014, Defendant Christensen, Plaintiff's training officer and supervisor, initiated a sexual relationship with Plaintiff, which continued intermittently for several years. Plaintiff tried to end the relationship with Christensen several times. Christensen responded by pressuring Plaintiff to continue a sexual relationship with him. Christensen began stalking Plaintiff, including while on-duty, and used County resources to do so. On or about March 7, 2015, after Plaintiff tried to break off the relationship, Christensen grabbed and choked Plaintiff at her home. Christensen thereafter made explicit and implicit threats of further physical violence to coerce Plaintiff to have sexual intercourse with him. Plaintiff initially did not report Christensen's assault or misconduct. Plaintiff was afraid to report Christensen to command staff at the WCSO because of the way other female employs had been treated after complaining of sexual harassment, the failure by the WCSO to discipline perpetrators of sex and gender discrimination, and because she feared retaliation.

         In April 2015, after a newspaper report published allegations of widespread sexual harassment of female Sheriff's Office employees, the WCSO began an in-house investigation. During the investigation, Plaintiff was interviewed about Christensen. After Plaintiff's interview regarding Christensen, her workplace became increasingly hostile.

         On May 19, 2016, Plaintiff was again subjected to sexual harassment by a WCSO officer, Justin Ulrich. On May 23, 2016, Plaintiff met with Defendant Garrett and Defendant Black. At the time, Defendant Black was the commander in charge of the WCSO internal affairs section. Plaintiff told Garrett and Black about Ulrich's misconduct. During that interview, Black said to Plaintiff, “So I am going to ask you. What kind of relationship did you have with Ulrich?” Plaintiff responded, “We did not have a relationship.” Black replied, “Are you sure you don't text each other? Do you Facebook?” Black tried to get Plaintiff to say that she had a personal relationship with Ulrich when, in fact, none existed.


         Defendants took Plaintiff's deposition on February 5, 2018. The court reporter delivered a transcript to Plaintiff's counsel on February 9, 2018. On March 2, 2018, Plaintiff's counsel served a Deposition Correction Sheet that contained thirteen changes to Plaintiff's deposition testimony. Defendants object to six of these corrections, arguing only that they are not correction of an error by the court reporter and thus not allowed under Rule 30(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Defendants do not argue that Plaintiff's changes were untimely or are a sham intended avoid summary judgment by attempting to create an issue of fact.

         Rule 30(e) states:

(1) Review; Statement of Changes. On request by the deponent or a party before the deposition is completed, the deponent must be allowed 30 days after being notified by the officer that the ...

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