United States District Court, D. Oregon
DARIAN STANFORD, as Personal Representative of the ESTATE OF AIMIE ZDRANTAN, and A.B., by and through her Guardian, Stelian Zdrantan, Plaintiffs,
WASHINGTON COUNTY, a municipal corporation of the State of Oregon; WASHINGTON COUNTY COMMUNITY CORRECTIONS CENTER, a municipal corporation of the State of Oregon; STEVE BERGER, an individual; KARLEIGH MOLLAHAN, an individual; PETER DAN, an individual; and DOREEN DREYER, an individual, Defendants.
L. Payne Kirc T. Emerson Richardson Wright LLP John M.
Coletti, III Paulson Coletti Attorneys for Plaintiffs
Christopher A. Gilmore Kimberly Stuart Office of Washington
County Counsel Gerald L. Warren Law Office of Gerald L.
Warren and Associates Attorneys for Defendants
OPINION AND ORDER
Jelderks U.S. Magistrate Judge
Darian Stanford, as Personal Representative of the Estate of
Aimie Zdrantan; and Plaintiff A.B., by and through her
guardian ad litem, Stelian Zdrantan, bring this action
against Defendants Washington County (“the
County”), Washington County Community Corrections
Center (“Center”), and County employees Steve
Berger, Karleigh Mollahan, Danita Gorman, Peter Dan and
Doreen Dryer. Plaintiffs allege wrongful death and negligent
infliction of emotional distress claims against Defendants
under state law and also assert a claim under 42 U.S.C.
§1983 for alleged Fourteenth Amendment substantive due
process rights violations. Pending before the Court is
Defendants' motion for summary judgment.
reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is granted
with respect to Plaintiff's Due Process Claim and state
law claim for Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress. The
Court retains jurisdiction of Plaintiff's supplemental
state law claim for wrongful death and denies Defendants'
motion for summary judgment as to that claim.
case revolves around the death of Aimee Zdrantan, who was
murdered in her apartment by her long-time boyfriend Eric
Petersen. At the time of the murder, Petersen was a resident
at the Center, serving an alternative sanction sentence for a
probation violation. Plaintiff A.B. is the now five-year old
child of Ms. Zdrantan and Petersen and was in the apartment
at the time of the murder.
The Washington County Community Corrections Center
County maintains the Washington County Community Corrections
Center (Center) to provide eligible individuals who are
serving criminal sentences transitional services and
opportunities through participation in a minimum security
residential work-release center. The Center thus serves as an
alternative to full-time confinement. Residents of the Center
are allowed the opportunity to seek treatment, establish
housing for after their release, and seek employment and
other community connections in order to facilitate a
successful re-entry into the community. Residents are allowed
to temporarily leave the Center in order to pursue these
the Center served 2, 169 residents. (Berger Decl. p. 2). In
that year, 84 percent of residents successfully participated
through the end of their sentences in the resources offered
by the Center. (Id.). New crimes of any kind by
Center residents have historically been less than one percent
with the commission of new crimes of violence at a fraction
of one percent. (Id.).
individual's eligibility to serve his sentence at the
Center can only be considered if the sentencing court first
orders that the offender is eligible for alternative
sanctions. ORS 137.752. Felony sentences of more than 12
months for a violent crime or sexual offense disqualify the
individual from candidacy for the Center. ORS 137.124,
137.752. Otherwise, the sentencing judge has discretion to
determine if alternative sanctions are appropriate under the
circumstances for the particular offender facing sentencing.
A judge's order authorizing alternative sanctions allows
the offender to participate in Center programs unless he is
judgment is entered authorizing alternative sanctions, the
inmate is then screened for transfer from jail to the Center.
The process and standards include the following: 1) an inmate
in the Washington County Jail must request a transfer to the
Center and pay a fee; 2) inmates “should be those that
will benefit from the [Center] program opportunities and not
present a risk to the public;” 3) the inmate must
display and have a history of good behavior and have a low or
medium classification level. (Frohnert Decl., Ex. 1, Jail
addition to Jail Policy, the Center has its own criteria for
acceptance. Subjective criteria include that the inmate agree
to adhere to Center program policy, rules and regulations; to
cooperate with staff and clients; that the inmate have the
mental and emotional capacity to participate in the program;
and that the inmate “be in touch with reality and in
control of violent behavior.” (Wright Decl., Ex. 1).
Every inmate entering the Center must sign a Conditions and
Agreement form and comply with the eligibility criteria.
Misconduct or misbehavior at the Center can result in an
automatic return to jail.
inmate is accepted to the Center and intake is complete, he
or she attends an orientation and signs the Conditions and
Agreement form. Following orientation, each resident is
assigned a residential counselor who, within 48 hours of
intake, meets with the resident to assess needs and develop a
case plan if necessary. (Wright Decl. Exs. 4, 5). No formal
case plan is required if a resident will be in the Center for
less than 30 days but residents still receive directives
regarding supervision requirements, treatment, and attendance
in other activities through the Center. (Wright Decl. Ex. 5).
During this initial meeting, the counselor is required to
identify any victims, no-contact orders, restraining orders
or protective orders. (Wright Decl. Ex. 5, p. 9). The
Center's policy directs that:
Per protocol, the counselor is responsible to contact the
victim . . . of record and inform them that the resident is
currently in custody and will have opportunities to be out in
the community. . . The counselor should document that this
contact has taken place.
(Wright Decl. Ex. 5, p. 9)
counselors are trained to attempt to locate the correct
victim contact information in order to attempt to contact the
victim but that “the reality is that doesn't always
happen.” (Gilmore Decl. Ex. 8, Gorman Dep. p. 18).
Counselors do not reach every victim they attempt to contact
but failure to contact a victim does not preclude a resident
from participating in Center programs, including temporary
release into the community. (Id. pp. 21-22). A
resident who violates a no-contact order is immediately
returned to jail. (Wright Decl. Ex. 5, p. 9).
seven day blackout period, residents in good standing may be
given a pass by Center counselors so that they may engage in
community based programs. (Wright Decl. Ex. 6). There are two
categories of passes: social passes and mini-passes.
Mini-passes are described in the Residential Counselor's
generally for use on short passes of four hours or less.
Mini-passes are used for the purpose of attending treatment,
legal appointments, medical appointments, job interviews,
self-help support groups, and personal business at
counselor's discretion if eligible based on custody
(Wright Decl. Ex. 5, p. 26). Prior to the issuance of a
mini-pass for the purpose of seeking employment, the resident
must complete an additional list of requirements. (Gilmore
Decl. Ex. 8, Gorman Depo. Ex. 4, p. 29). It is the policy of
the Center that all qualified unemployed residents pursue
gainful employment prior to their re-entry into the community
and be afforded passes into the community to do so. However,
counselors have discretion to authorize passes based on the
resident's “program compliance and appropriate
behavior while a resident of the Center.” (Wright Decl.
Exs. 5, 6).
resident is an hour late returning from an approved pass,
Center policy directs that staff attempt to locate the
resident by making contact with family, significant others,
employers and/or the approved visit site. Staff are also
directed to notify victims. (Wright Decl. Ex. 8, p. 3). Once
a resident is three hours late, the Unauthorized Departure
(UAD) process is initiated and staff are directed to notify
the resident's probation officer, jail booking, and
non-emergency dispatch. Staff are also required to complete a
UAD procedure worksheet and an Escape/UAD Incident Report.
Supervisory staff are to review the completed worksheet at
the time of the UAD “to ensure all protocol is handled
and appropriate phone calls are made if needed.”
event Center staff become aware a resident has entered an
unauthorized area either inside or outside the Center, the
infraction is treated as a Major Violation. (Payne Decl. Ex.
5, p. 41). A Major Violation is an internal Center
disciplinary measure that can result in sanctions ranging
from lengths of time on restriction to return to jail.
(Wright Decl. Ex. 5, p. 15).
Petersen's Transfer to the Center
August 6, 2014, while walking with Ms. Zdrantan and A.B. in
Hillsboro, Petersen was arrested on an outstanding warrant
for non-compliance with his probation conditions. Although
there was a no-contact order in place, Petersen and Ms.
Zdrantan were living together at the time and Petersen was
caring for A.B. while Ms. Zdrantan worked.
probation violation hearing was held on August 18, 2014 in
Washington County Circuit Court. Ms. Zdrantan attended the
hearing. At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Letourneau
indicated in court that he would sentence Petersen to
“60 days, credit for time served, alternative
sanctions. Hopefully you can work at the center and, you
know, get a positive start before you hit the - hit pavement
again.” (Gilmore Decl. Ex. 6, p. 9). A Judgment was
subsequently entered authorizing alternative sanctions.
was then returned to jail and applied for transfer to the
Center. On August 20, 2018, Petersen was transferred to the
Center. He met with Defendant Danita Gorman, his assigned
residential counselor, on the following day. According to
Gorman, there was nothing in Petersen's demeanor,
behavior or responses to her inquiries that gave her any
concerns about his ability to participate in Center programs.
(Gorman Decl. p. 2). Gorman asked Petersen if he had contact
information for the victims listed in his file and he
indicated that he did not. (Id.). Gorman
subsequently searched the AS400 “Chronos” log and
found that the most recent phone number for Ms. Zdrantan had
been disconnected. Jail records also did not have a number.
After her meeting with Petersen, Gorman sent an email to his
probation officer seeking valid contact information. (Gorman
Depo. pp. 24, 27-28). She did not receive a response before
Petersen was issued a mini-pass on August 28, 2018.
(Id. at p. 25).
The Events of August 28, 2014
August 28, 2014, after the seven-day blackout period,
Petersen received authorization to leave the Center to seek
employment through Labor Ready. His first pass was at 5:37am
which was when Labor Ready wanted potential laborers to
appear. When Petersen arrived at Labor Ready early that
morning, he was not able to provide sufficient forms of
identification and the staff were not able to locate him in
the system due to confusion regarding the spelling of his
name. (Alex Depo. pp. 34-37). He was sent back to the Center
and checked in at 8:25am. (Dan Depo. p. 56). Labor Ready
later contacted the Center and asked that Petersen return to
Labor Ready as they had located him in the system and needed
him to provide updated information and his identification.
(Alex Depo. pp. 17, 22). Petersen was issued a mini-pass at
9:45am in order to go to Labor Ready. The mini-pass required
him to return to the Center by 12pm.
arriving at Labor Ready and waiting for staff to assist him,
Petersen was told that he did not have the proper forms of
identification with him and that he was to return to the
Center. He was told that he had about 15 minutes to do so.
(Id. at p. 23). Labor Ready is located three or four
blocks away from the Center. Petersen left Labor Ready at
approximately 10:30am. (Id. at pp. 25-26).
of returning to the Center, Petersen headed in the direction
of Ms. Zdrantan's apartment about two miles away. On the
way he encountered Ms. Zdrantan and A.B. walking along the
side of the Tualatin Valley Highway. During their encounter,
they had and argument. Ms. Zdrantan called her mother, Alice
Alinger, from her cell phone and part of the argument was
recorded on Ms. Alinger's voicemail around 10:41 a.m.
(Petersen Decl. ¶¶ 10-14; Petersen Depo. p. 17;
Gilmore Decl. Ex. 11, Nos. 24, 25). Ms. Zdrantan told
Petersen to leave or she would call his probation officer.
Ms. Zdrantan and Petersen parted. Petersen first walked in
the direction of the Center and then doubled back to walk to
the apartment he had shared with Ms. Zdrantan to collect his
belongings. (Petersen Decl. ¶¶ 12-13).
apartment, Petersen encountered Leticia Godinez, the
apartment manager. He asked if Ms. Zdrantan was home and when
Godinez responded that she didn't know he left to check.
(Godinez Depo. pp. 48-50). When he returned he asked Godinez
if she would open the apartment for him so he could retrieve
his belongings. (Id. p. 50-51). Godinez refused.
Petersen continued to wait in the apartment complex office
and used Godinez's cell phone and office phone multiple
times in an attempt to contact Ms. Zdrantan. (Id. at
approximately 11:53am, Petersen used Godinez's office
phone to call the Center. He reported to Center employee
Peter Dan that he was going to be late for his noon return
deadline; that he was near the Clackamas Town Center and that
he didn't want to go back to jail. (Dan Depo. pp. 74-77;
84). Dan told him that if he was under three hours late he
would receive a Major Violation but that he would not
automatically be returned to jail. (Id. at p. 84).
According to his deposition testimony, Dan was “trying
to minimize, in [Petersen's] mind, how much trouble
he's in, so to increase the chances that he would
actually come back.” (Id. at pp. 76-77).
Dan's general sense was that Petersen was not going to
return to the Center. (Id.). Dan documented the call
and when, his co-worker, Doreen Dryer, returned from lunch at
12:30pm, they initiated the Unauthorized Departure process.
(Dan Depo. pp. 54, 87-88; Dryer Depo. pp. 41-43).
file was retrieved from Gorman and Dan informed Dryer that
there were victims to be contacted. Dan assumed Dryer's
front counter duties so that she could proceed with the UAD
process. (Id.). At some point after 1pm, Dryer
attempted to call the numbers listed in Petersen's file
for Ms. Zdrantan but was told by Gorman ...