Parents lose lawsuit over destruction of son's porn stash

Associated Press

Grand Haven — A man who sued his parents for getting rid of his pornography collection has won a lawsuit in western Michigan and can seek compensation.

U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney ruled in favor of David Werking, who said his parents, Paul and Beth Werking, had no right to throw out his collection. He lived at their Grand Haven home for 10 months starting in October 2016 after a divorce before moving to Muncie, Indiana.

Werking said boxes of films and magazines worth an estimated $29,000 were missing.

“There is no question that the destroyed property was David’s property,” Maloney said Monday. “Defendants repeatedly admitted that they destroyed the property."

According to Werking's suit, his parents delivered some of his property at his request in mid-December 2017, and he noticed some of it was missing. When he asked about the missing pornography, his parents told him it had been destroyed.

On New Year's Day 2018, according to the suit, Werking's father sent him an email that said: "I don't think that you have been listening to me, so let me make this very clear. I do not possess your pornography. It is gone. It has been either destroyed or disposed of. I may well have missed a few items that are now in your possession

but, at this point, if you don't have it, it is gone. Ditto for your sex toys and smutty magazines."

The email continued: “We counted twelve moving boxes full of pornography

plus two boxes of ‘sex toys’ as you call them. We began that day the process of

destroying them and it took quite a while to do so. ... Frankly, David, I did you a big favor by getting rid of all this stuff for you.” 

The next month, Werking called the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office and a deputy spoke with his mother, who acknowledged the couple had disposed of his pornography, the suit says.

On March 17, according to the complaint, she sent her son an email, saying: “Believe it or not, one reason for why I destroyed your porn was for your own mental and emotional heath.”

Werking's parents said they had a right to act as his landlords.

“Defendants do not cite to any statute or caselaw to support their assertion that landlords can destroy property that they dislike,” the judge said.

Maloney told both sides to file briefs on the financial value of the collection.

"The court does not intend to hold an evidentiary hearing," he said.