Appeal from Douglas Superior Court. Docket No: 09-2-00228-0. Date filed: 06/20/2012. Judge signing: Honorable John Michael Antosz.
Julie A. Anderson (of Law Office of Julie A. Anderson ), for appellant.
Stanley A. Bastian (of Jeffers Danielson Sonn & Aylward PS ), for respondents.
AUTHOR: Stephen M. Brown, J. Kevin M. Korsmo, C.J. concurs, Siddoway, J. dissents.
[178 Wn.App. 794] ¶ 1 Jason Youker appeals the summary judgment dismissal of his common law privacy invasion suit against Douglas County and two of its sheriff's deputies, Lisa White and William Black, after the deputies performed a warrantless search of his home based on the consent of his ex-wife, JoAnn Youker.
Mr. Youker contends genuine issues of material fact exist on Ms. Youker's authority to consent to the search and the amount of damages stemming directly from the search. Reasonable minds could solely conclude the deputies lacked intent to intrude upon Mr. Youker's seclusion. Accordingly, we affirm.
¶ 2 In April 2007, Ms. Youker visited the sheriff's office to report her ex-husband, Mr. Youker, was a convicted felon [178 Wn.App. 795] with a rifle in his possession. Deputies White and Black learned Mr. Youker had in effect a no-contact order against Ms. Youker, and she had an outstanding arrest warrant. Ms. Youker offered to show the deputies the gun's location in the home where she claimed to have resided with Mr. Youker for the previous five months despite the no-contact order.
¶ 3 The deputies drove Ms. Youker to the home where, in Mr. Youker's absence, she signed a consent to search form. A dog recognized her and allowed her to pass to the door that she knew was unlocked to allow Mr. Youker's employees access to business inventory. The deputies entered the home and seized the gun from under a bed Ms. Youker claimed to share with Mr. Youker. Ms. Youker showed them her clothing in half the bedroom closet and her mail sent to that address on the bed's side table. Back at the sheriff's office, Deputy White learned Ms. Youker's arrest warrant was for violating the no-contact order and arrested her. Deputy White arrested Mr. Youker the next day. Mr. Youker told Deputy White the gun belonged to Ms. Youker and she had resided in his home for the previous four months.
¶ 4 The State charged Mr. Youker with first degree unlawful firearm possession. State prosecutors later dropped the charge because the United States indicted him for the same incident. Federal prosecutors eventually dropped the indictment because evidence suggested Mr. Youker might not have owned the gun.
¶ 5 In April 2009, Mr. Youker sued the county and the deputies for privacy invasion, false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution. The Youkers each gave evidence contradicting their prior alleged statements in material ways, generally claiming Ms. Youker did not reside in Mr. Youker's home at the time of the search. The trial court summarily dismissed all claims. Mr. Youker's first appeal followed. This court reversed and remanded solely regarding his privacy invasion suit, finding, " [T]he basis for dismissing [the] claim, at least with respect to damages [178 Wn.App. 796] directly related to the search, was insufficiently briefed below and on appeal." Youker v. Douglas County, 162 Wn.App. 448, 453, 258 P.3d 60, review denied, 173 Wn.2d 1002 (2011).
¶ 6 On remand, the trial court again summarily dismissed Mr. Youker's privacy invasion suit. The court " specifically f[ound] that there are issues of fact on ... consent to search" but concluded these issues were not material because Mr. Youker could not prove ...