Family Matters: 'My house, my rules' defense fails parents in 'adults only' case


By Marie Matyjaszek

When my kids fail to pick up their toys or papers after repeated reminders to do so, I warn them that those items may end up in the trash. This generally prompts them to scurry around and throw everything into a dark corner in their closets, negating the threat for the time being.

Some parents have more backbone than I and follow through on their promises, as illustrated in a Grand Haven case.

David Werking, a forty-something Michigan man, sued his parents for throwing out his adult magazines, X-rated videos, and sex toys – and won.

When he moved into their Grand Haven home in 2016 following his divorce, his belongings came with him, including his special “adults only” collection. With a “my house, my rules” mentality, his parents warned him to not bring these items into their home.

David responded with a “you’re not the boss of me” attitude and moved in, provocative products and all. When he moved out the following year, his parents shipped his belongings to his new digs. Much to David’s surprise, his boudoir items were missing.

Determined to have the last scintillating word, David did what any rational son would do and sued his parents, alleging that the mature materials were worth a whopping $25,000. His parents admitted to tossing what they apparently considered trash, and told the court that they had warned their son that they would throw the items out if he brought them into their home. The judge dismissed their defense and ruled in favor of David, giving parents and son time to determine the damages.

A surprise twist in this already bizarre case is the fact that his parents kept some of the most offensive (in their opinion) items and placed them in a safe deposit box, fearing that they were illegal. It’s unclear if they did this to protect their son from legal trouble, or if they were keeping evidence to turn him in. Either way, the police determined nothing was amiss and David was not charged.

E-mails between father and son proved to be equally entertaining, according to court records with David suggesting various adult viewing sites in the event his father was so inclined. His father’s response definitely points in the opposite direction. 

In other words, the old saying “like father, like son” failed to gain traction in this family.
The author is an Attorney Referee at the Washtenaw County Friend of the Court; however, the views expressed in this column are her own.  She can be reached by e-mailing her at