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Worley v. Brewer

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

January 16, 2019

JAMES WORLEY, Plaintiff,




         Plaintiff James Worley ("Worley") brought claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Michelle Brewer and Elijah Chambers, Oregon State Police detectives, and Jennifer Evans, an Oregon Department of Human Services ("DHS") caseworker (collectively "State Defendants"), alleging State Defendants violated his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment. Worley also brought state-law claims for false arrest, malicious prosecution, and negligence. In a previous Order (ECF No. 50), Judge Brown granted State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss as to all claims except for Worley's claim under § 1983 alleging Defendant Evans ("Evans") fabricated evidence in violation of Worley's Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process rights. Currently before the court is Evans's Motion for Summary Judgment as to Worley's remaining claim. For the reasons set forth below, the court grants Evans's motion.[1]


         In 2000, Worley married Heather Laughlin. Laughlin had a minor daughter, HL, from a prior marriage to Kenneth Cole. (Pl.'s Compl., ECF No. 1, at 5.) In January 2002, Worley and Laughlin had a son, SW, while living in Deschutes County, Oregon. (Id.)

         On September 19, 2006, the Lane County Circuit Court entered a Judgment of Dissolution dissolving the marriage of Worley and Laughlin. (Id.) Following the divorce, Laughlin, HL, and SW lived together in Lane County. Worley had regular visitation with SW and HL. (Id.)

         In March 2008, Worley married Joanne Davis.[2] Davis had a minor daughter, AD, from a prior marriage. Worley and Davis have two children together: a son, JW, and a daughter, also JW (the "children"). (Id.)

         In February 2012, Worley, Davis, AD, and the children moved to Gresham, Oregon. Around that time, SW told Worley he wanted to live with Worley and Davis. When HL learned SW might possibly move, she became upset and stopped visiting Worley. (Id. at 6.) On July 12, 2012, HL told Laughlin and Cole that Worley had sexually abused her in the past. (Id. at 7.)

         On July 19, 2012, Laughlin took HL, who was then 15 years old, to the Oregon State Police in Lane County and spoke with Detective Chambers. (Id. at 8.) That same day, Evans, a DHS caseworker in Gresham, Oregon, began an investigation into the safety of the three children residing in Worley's household: AD and the children. (Pl.'s Resp. to Defs.' Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 100, at 2 ("Pl.'s Resp.").)

         Upon assignment of the case, Evans performed a "social media check" on Worley. (Decl. of Daniel Snyder, ECF No. 101-2 ("Snyder Decl."), Ex. H at 134:5-10 ("Evans Dep.").) Her search revealed two videos posted on a social media website; one video showed Worley dropping his step-daughter, AD, and daughter, JW, off at school ("driving-to-school video"), and the other showed Worley and AD sitting next to each other at home. (Id. at 37:9-18.) Evans claimed the driving-to-school video depicted Worley "inappropriate[ly]" kissing AD on the lips to say goodbye as she exited the vehicle. (Id., at 29:15-25, 39:15-22, 88:11-14.) Evans construed Worley and AD's behavior in the second video as flirtatious and atypical because they were "sitting very close to each other . . . rubbing up against each other and giggling and moving and acting silly." (Id. at 46:1-10, 44:21-25.) Evans found the interactions concerning because AD had a prior history of sexual abuse by her adoptive father, which Worley was allegedly aware of. (Id. at 46:17-19.) Shortly after viewing the videos, Evans forwarded a link of the driving-to-school video to Detective Chambers, but she did not download the videos to her work computer because DHS did not have the ability to do so and she expected Chambers would retain the video. (Id. at 47:24-48:12, 49:9-17, 66:7-9.) Evans believed the videos showed Worley engaging in sexual "grooming-type behaviors" toward AD. (Id. at 88:11-14.)

         In describing the driving-to-school video, Chambers noted that Worley was filming from a hand-held device while narrating, the vehicle stopped, and "the teenage girl went to get out and gave Mr. Worley and . . . also the grade schooler both a kiss on the lips as if to signify goodbye." (Snyder Decl., Ex. K at 31:10-18 ("Chambers Dep.").) Chambers did not find the kiss was of a sexual nature, and he did not retain the video or later turn it over to Worley's defense counsel because he did not see anything of a criminal nature in the video. (Id. at 32:2-24.) Rather, Chambers found the video depicted a normal family interaction. (Id. at 32:25-33:1.)

         On July 19, 2012, the same day Evans began her investigation, Evans put a "safety plan" in place for the Worley family. (Snyder Decl., Ex. A at 2, 5.) The plan lasted for approximately five months and required Davis to supervise Worley's contact with their children. (Id. at 2.) On July 20, 2012, Evans called Davis and told her that Worley had to move out because he was a "monster," claiming Worley had put his hand on AD's thigh and kissed her on the mouth. (Decl. of Joanne Worley, ECF No. 105, ¶ 3.) AD later stated that she never told Evans that Worley touched her on her thigh, only that he would put his hands on her knee and she never felt it was inappropriate. (Decl. of Amy Bertrand, ECF 80 ("Bertrand Decl."), Ex. 2 at 1-2, 14 ("AD Interview").) AD also reported that kissing on the lips, nose, cheek, and head were normal ways of showing affection in her family and she never felt uncomfortable around Worley. (Id. at 14-15.)

         On May 21, 2013, Evans testified in a Lane County family court hearing that she was aware of a video on the internet that showed Worley driving his kids to school unsupervised, and that she viewed the video before the safety plan was put into place. (Snyder Decl., Ex. A at.5.)

         On December 17, 2014, Worley was indicted by a grand jury in Deschutes County on numerous counts of felony rape and sex abuse against HL and SW. (Pl.'s Compl. 14-15.) On December 30, 2014, Worley was arrested in his home in Gresham pursuant to an arrest warrant issued in the Deschutes County case. (Id. at 15.) On January 23, 2015, Worley posted bond and was released from jail under house arrest. (Id.)

         On April 17, 2015, Worley was charged with additional sex-abuse charges in Tillamook County. (Id. at 16.) On April 20, 2015, Worley was again arrested at his home in Gresham. Worley remained in custody on the Tillamook County charges for approximately ten months pretrial. (Id.)

         On February 1, 2016, Worley's criminal trial began in Tillamook County. (Id. at 17.) On February 23, 2016, Evans testified concerning the videos. (Snyder Decl., Ex. B at 1.) In describing the driving-to-school video, Evans stated Worley and AD were "riding very, very closely in the car," and Worley "kiss[ed] her directly on the mouth when they were saying goodbye." (Id. at 9.) In describing the video of Worley and AD in their home, Evans stated "[t]hey were sitting extremely close to each other," and their conduct was of a "very intimate nature that you would see more with a partner versus a stepdaughter." (Id. at 9, 14.) Evans stated that she passed the videos along to law enforcement because she was "concerned of grooming-type behaviors between Mr. Worley and [AD.]" (Id. at 9.) Evans also testified that Worley was cooperative with the safety plan that she put into place in 2012, but "given the information that's available today, if [Worley] was to return to the home, a new assessment would be opened, and there would be a new DHS assessment conducted." [3](Id. at 4, 7.)

         On March 7, 2016, the jury in the Tillamook County trial found Worley "not guilty" on five counts and hung on the remaining 17 counts. (Decl. of Mae Lee Browning, ECF 102 ("Browning Decl"), ¶ 7.) The same day, the Tillamook County Circuit Court released Worley to the family home, where he was to remain on house arrest for the pending charges in Deschutes County. (Id.) On March 14, 2016, the Tillamook Court entered a judgment of dismissal upon the remaining 17 counts in response to the State's motion to dismiss. (Id. at ¶¶ 8-9.)

         On March 23, 2016, Evans placed an anonymous phone call to DHS's child abuse hotline to initiate a new assessment of the children. (Evans Dep. 94:12-19, 97:21-98:5.) Evans was also assigned to investigate the case. (Id., at 102:18-19.) On March 24, 2016, at approximately 3:00 p.m., Evans went to the Worley residence unannounced. (Id. at 101:20.) The children were not at the home at the time because they were staying with Krista Rasey, a family friend, while Worley and Davis went to Bend, Oregon earlier that day. (Decl. of Krista Rasey, ECF 104 ("Rasey Decl."), ¶ 5.) Worley and Davis elected not to speak with Evans and referred her to their attorney Richard Cohen. (Evans Dep. 104:6-9.) Evans returned to the DHS office to meet with her supervisors and telephone Cohen. (Id. at 105:24-106:4.)

         Because Cohen was unavailable, Evans initially spoke with attorney Mae Lee Browning at approximately 4:15 p.m. (Browning Decl. ¶ 12.) Evans informed Browning that DHS would remove the children from the home and file a juvenile petition if Worley and Davis did not agree to a safety plan, and if Worley remained in the home that night. (Id. at ¶ 12.) Evans's demand that Worley leave that night was problematic because Worley was on house arrest and obtaining permission for Worley to move out was unlikely on such short notice. (Id. at ¶ 13.) Upon returning to his law office and speaking with Browning, Cohen placed a call to DHS at approximately 4:45 p.m., which Browning listened in on. (Declaration of Richard D. Cohen, ECF 103 ("Cohen Decl."), ¶ 4; Browning Decl. ¶ 15.) Evans and her supervisors, Cheryll Ramos and Amy Bertrand, were present on the call at DHS. (Evans Dep. 110:15-20.) Evans claims she did not "speak directly to Mr. Cohen;" rather, "he was speaking to either Cheryll Ramos or Amy Bertrand." (id at 110:13-17.)

         During the brief call, Cohen informed the DHS employees that Worley and Davis would cooperate with safety planning. (Id. at 111:16-23.) Cohen assured Evans and her supervisors that the children were at Rasey's home, provided Rasey's address and telephone number, informed them that Rasey had substantial experience with children as a former Court Appointed Special Advocate, and assured DHS that they would have access to the children to verify they were safe. (Cohen Decl. ¶¶ 5-6; Browning Decl. ¶ 15; Evans Dep. 111:24-112:2.) An agreement was reached whereby the children would stay with Rasey that evening and, due to the lateness in the day, ...

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