Milford couple files Nevada District Court civil rights suit

Correction: It was the Turners’ older daughter who was sent to her biological father. lassennews.com regrets the error.

Milford residents Kera and Joseph Turner have filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court District of Nevada alleging seven violations of their civil rights by the Washoe County, its Human Services Agency’s Child Protective Services, Ashley Davis, Lisa Wright, Natasha Eagan-Ambos, Emily Ruff, Tara Sterrett, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office and Does one through 40.

The Turners demand a jury trial alleging inference with familial relations, retaliation, violations of procedural and substantive due process, detention of a minor child, withholding arms, withholding private property and Monell liability.

They seek general damages, special damages, punitive damages, an order to preserve all records of property seized by the WCSO and to protect that property, declaratory and injunctive relief, immediate return of their property, reasonable attorney fees and costs, other relief the court deems proper and just, civil penalties according to law and any and all further relief as the court may deem just and proper.

According to Allied Public Risk, “The heightened publicity surrounding law enforcement and breaches of civil rights may have surfaced the term “Monell claim” and left you wondering what it is and how it applies to actions alleging a breach of civil rights. Monell claim refers to Monell v. Department of Social Services, a 1978 case in which the Supreme Court of the United States uprooted absolute immunity for public entities and held that a municipality may be accountable for the actions of employees if the actions alleged are unconstitutional pursuant to a policy statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision officially adopted and promulgated by officers.”

In pro per, the Turners spell out their interaction with Washoe County during and after the Dixie Fire in a 36-page first amended complaint.

“By their actions, plaintiffs suffered injuries to their person and their property. Plaintiffs’ deprivations and injuries were caused by defendants — by commission and omission — which occurred while defendants acted under color of law,” the Turners allege.

Dixie Fire nightmare continues in Washoe County
According to the Turners, it all began Aug. 17, 2021, with a Facebook post asking for help with the family’s evacuation from their Milford farm due to the Dixie Fire. An acquaintance responded to assist the family with the rescue of their property and livestock. The acquaintance agreed to care for the Tuner’s two children (one then 8 and the other about 1), 13 goats, three dogs, one cat, 18 ducks and 17 chickens.

Unbeknownst to the Turners, the acquaintance contacted Washoe County CPS because she suspected sexual abuse of the infant.

On Aug. 21, 2021, without parental consent or court order, the acquaintance took the infant to Renown Medical Center “asserting possible sexual abuse.” Renown contacted the Reno Police Department, and the infant was “unlawfully given a sexual abuse evaluation and exposed to more than five hours of police and social worker presence, all without her mother’s or father’s knowledge or consent.”

The Turners allege the acquaintance “made false statements to the Reno Police” regarding the Turners’ location, and the care of their children. The RPD terminated its involvement with the matter, but the acquaintance took the infant to her residence and CPS social workers followed and asked the WCSO for assistance.

Deputies arrived and were informed the Turner’s pickup and trailer might be stolen. Deputies determined the vehicles were stolen and “made a plan with WCHSA social workers … to lure plaintiffs … to make an arrest.”

The Turners said they purchased the vehicles not knowing they were stolen, and the criminal charges against them in this regard were eventually dismissed.

The Turners allege when they arrived at the acquaintance’s residence, they were “ambushed by WCSO deputies with drawn guns and they were arrested for possession of stolen vehicles.” The deputies seized the pickup and trailer and all the property within. A social worker allegedly told Joseph Turner, “We’re taking your children. Have a good night.”

While in custody Aug. 22, 2021, Joseph Turner alleges he was interrogated by social workers without representation. He said he refused to agree to allowing his children to remain with the acquaintance as a “fictive kin foster placement.”

Turner said the children belonged to the family and the acquaintance didn’t meet the legal requirements as a fictive kin. He also said the social workers lied to him when they told him his wife had agreed to the arrangement, and if he did not agree, his children would be separated and they would have no way of knowing where they were. They also lied about his wife’s alleged admission of illicit substance abuse and allegations of child abuse/neglect. Joseph Turner said he signed the agreement under duress.

On Aug. 23, 2021, social workers interrogated Kera Turner without representation while she was in custody. They told her Joseph Turner had already singed for a temporary 10-day placement and “there was no other option … as the fact of simply being in jail meant the plaintiffs could not care for the children. The Turners allege none of their family members were considered as caretakers for the children.

At an Aug. 24, 2021, juvenile dependency hearing, WCSHA asked for the removal of the children because the Turners were incarcerated and Joseph Turner “lacked stable housing” due to the Dixie Fire.

On Aug. 30, 2021, social workers allegedly revealed medical and other confidential information regarding Kera Turner.

On Sept. 7, 2021, Family Court in Sacramento informed the Turners their older daughter was being sent to her biological father.

On Sept. 10, the Turners began asking for the return of their property, but they say they were given “the run around.” A deputy told them all the property in the trailer had been returned to the original owners, and they would have to sue to recover their property even though the deputy “never provided a single document to confirm any transfer or disposition of property to substantiate this claim.”

The Turners did recover a portion of their property at the Incline Village substation because “the trailer owners saw you had children and were really sympathetic.” They also obtained a small amount of property Dec. 15.

On Sept. 19, 2021, social workers informed Kera Turner that all the drug screenings they’d be subjected to came back negative, and they demanded she sign an unlimited release of medical information. Kera Turner asked to speak to legal counsel before signing anything, and social workers told her the refusal was the only thing “preventing the minor children from coming home,” and if she refused, she should “buckle up and be prepared for (a) long ride.”

On Sept. 21, 2021, a new social worker demanded the Turners submit to a Psych/Social Evaluation paid for by a WCHSA voucher. The Turners refused and offered to use their insurance for such an evaluation.

On Sept. 24, 2021, the Turners completed California approved parenting, drug awareness and anger management classes as well as a Psych/Social evaluation.

On Sept. 27, 2021, the Turners allege the reason for the removal of the children shifted from their being incarcerated “to illicit drug abuse and neglect of the minor children.” The Turners challenged the allegations and the court’s jurisdiction because the children were with the acquaintance while they were in Nevada, therefore the charges were impossible. The court transferred jurisdiction to Lassen County.

On Sept. 29, 2021, the Turners allege a social worker signed an Individualized Family Engagement and Visitation Plan without their agreement.

On Oct. 1, 2021, the Turners allege their appointed counsel coerced them under duress in “submitting to false allegations by the WCHSA.”

On Oct. 5, 2021, the Turners allege WCHSA filed unevidenced allegations against them.

Lassen County Superior Court accepted jurisdiction Oct. 25, 2021, but WCSHA social workers “continued to harass plaintiffs and meddle into plaintiff’s affairs.”

Lassen County returned custody of the infant child to the plaintiffs despite efforts by WCSHA to block that transfer.

Between Nov. 16 and Nov. 17, 2021, plaintiffs received copies of evidence sent from WCSHA to LCCSF that contained false evidence including photographs of an alleged drug substance taken Oct. 20, 2021, the day before the removal the Turners’ children and their arrest.

On Nov. 19, 2021, the Turners found the stolen truck and everything in it had been towed. The Turners allege they were never given an opportunity to retrieve their property and they were never informed it had been taken into evidence.

On Nov. 27, 2021, the Turners received a $1,500 bill from Renown for the infant’s Aug. 21 visit to the hospital, and they learned through MyChart of the sexual abuse evaluation that had occurred without their knowledge of consent. LCCFS said they were not informed of this evaluation.

On Dec. 6, 2021, LCCFS petitioned the court to “dismiss the Juvenile Dependency case against the Turners because the various allegations made by WCHSA lacked creditable evidence to substantiate their claims and the allegations did not rise to the legal standard of abuse or neglect.”

On May 13, 2022, a WCSO deputy informed the Turners the department was going to release their firearms, but the WCSO “had broken the chain of custody of their firearms by giving the trailer back to the owners without doing a complete inventory … WCSO has yet to provide a full accounting of firearms or any other property seized that had not already returned … “

On Dec. 22, 2022, the Turners allege the WCSO did not respond to their Public Records requests. They allege the same thing happened April 12, 2023.

On June 24, 2023, reporter Bob Conrad filed a Writ of Mandamus against the WCSO for violating Public Records requests.
Joseph Turner continues his efforts to obtain his firearms from the WCSO.