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LEGRAND v. REID

April 7, 1995

LINDA AUGUSTINE and TERRA LeGRAND, Plaintiffs, against POLICE OFFICER REID, POLICE OFFICER FERNANDO RODRIGUEZ, SISTER ANNELLE FITZPATRICK, CITY OF NEW YORK, POLICE COMMISSIONER KELLY, and ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESE, Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: EUGENE H. NICKERSON

 NICKERSON, District Judge:

 Plaintiffs brought this pro se action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985(3) alleging that defendants conspired to and did falsely arrest and maliciously prosecute them because of their race and their faith, in violation of their rights under the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Plaintiffs seek damages of $ 60 million.

 Defendants move for summary judgment. Plaintiffs move to amend their complaint to name an additional defendant.

 I

 The parties do not contest the following facts.

 On June 14, 1993 defendant Annelle Fitzpatrick, a Roman Catholic nun who is a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph, told defendant police officers Fernando Rodriguez and Andrew Reid that plaintiffs Linda Augustine and Terra LeGrand, claiming that they were Catholic nuns from the Sisters of St. Joseph and wearing long black robes with crucifixes, had solicited Fitzpatrick for money to support an orphanage. Fitzpatrick showed the officers identification and told them that as a Sister of St. Joseph, she knew that plaintiffs did not belong to that order.

 After observing plaintiffs solicit passersby and store owners, Reid, Rodriguez and Fitzpatrick questioned plaintiffs. They were not able to answer Fitzpatrick's questions about their novitiate training or produce identification other than a piece of paper that they said was a license to solicit on the behalf of St. Joseph's Church of Christ. They denied that they had represented that they were Catholic nuns, stating that they were "Pentecostal nuns."

 Sergeant Timothy Donohue, called to the scene by Reid, asked plaintiffs to come to the station house in order to call their mother superior, who LeGrand said could verify their identities. When the parties arrived at the precinct, a detective recognized LeGrand and stated that the LeGrand family sends out women dressed like nuns to collect money.

 Reid called a telephone number provided by LeGrand and asked to speak to Sister Eva. The woman who answered the phone said that she knew Augustine and LeGrand but hung up when Reid identified himself as a police officer and asked that she come to the precinct to identify plaintiffs.

 Reid called again, this time speaking to a woman who said she was Sister Eva. After he stated that he was a police officer, she too hung up. Reid tried calling the number approximately five more times with the same result.

 Reid arrested plaintiffs for fraudulent accosting (N.Y. Penal Law § 165.30) and criminal impersonation in the second degree (N.Y. Penal Law § 190.25). A jury acquitted plaintiffs of those charges sometime thereafter.

 II

 The court may grant a motion for summary judgment only when the moving party demonstrates that no genuine issue of material fact exists for trial and that the party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. The court resolves all ambiguities and draws all inferences from the underlying facts in favor of the nonmoving party. See Binder v. Long Island Lighting Co., 933 F.2d ...


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