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RARICK v. DEFRANCESCO

April 28, 2000

BRIAN RARICK, PLAINTIFF,
V.
MARK J. DEFRANCESCO, PERSONALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS AN OFFICER/EMPLOYEE OF THE ALBANY COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT; CRAIG APPLE, PERSONALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS AN OFFICER/EMPLOYEE OF THE ALBANY COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT; RONALD BATES, PERSONALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS AN OFFICER/EMPLOYEE OF THE ALBANY COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT; AND THE ALBANY COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ralph W. Smith, Jr., United States Magistrate Judge.

  MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

This case arises under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1988; the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution; and the common law of New York State. The parties have consented to have the undersigned conduct any and all further proceedings in this case, including the entry of final judgment, in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment (hereinafter the "Motion"). For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the Motion in part and denies it in part.

I. Standard of Review

Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), a court may grant a party's motion for summary judgment only when there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Chertkova v. Connecticut Gen. Life Ins. Co., 92 F.3d 81, 86 (2d Cir. 1996). When analyzing the motion, the court's function "is not to weigh the evidence, make credibility determinations or resolve issues of fact, but rather to determine whether, drawing all reasonable inferences from the evidence presented in favor of the non-moving party, a fair-minded jury could find in the non-moving party's favor." Beatie v. City of New York, 123 F.3d 707, 710-11 (2d Cir. 1997) (citing United States v. Rem, 38 F.3d 634, 644 (2d Cir. 1994); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)). The moving party bears the initial burden of "informing the . . . court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of `the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548. Once the moving party satisfies this standard, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to set forth specific facts indicating that genuine issues of material fact exist. Cifarelli v. Village of Babylon, 93 F.3d 47, 51 (2d Cir. 1996). In opposing the motion, the non-moving party may not merely rely upon the pleadings, but "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). Where the evidence in the record could reasonably support a verdict in favor of the non-moving party, the court must deny the moving party's motion. Beatie, 123 F.3d at 711 (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252, 106 S.Ct. 2505). However, "[w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party," the Court will grant the moving party's motion. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986).

II. Statement of Facts

Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the facts are as follows. On or about March 1, 1997, Plaintiff spoke by telephone with his friend, Brian Myers.*fn1 Plaintiff had previously asked Myers if he could borrow Myers' flatbed truck to go buy feed for his pigs. Myers told Plaintiff that he and his cousin, Joseph Clark, had delivered the truck to Plaintiff's yard; instead of being empty, however, the truck contained two engines and two transmissions (hereinafter "the engines"). Although Myers did not explicitly state that the engines were stolen, he informed Plaintiff that Clark was in trouble with the police. According to Myers, Clark thought that the Albany County Sheriff's Department (hereinafter "the Sheriff's Department") would soon be coming to his house, and he wanted to remove some things and place them "wherever he could." Plaintiff learned that Clark's troubles also involved Myers and that Myers was cooperating with the Sheriff's Department. Myers told Plaintiff that he had already turned in some property to the Sheriff's Department and that he would arrange for the engines to be turned in as well.

After Plaintiff ended his call with Myers, he unloaded the engines from the truck, placed them in his yard, and took the truck to the feed store. That night it rained, and Plaintiff decided to wait for the grass to dry before driving the truck onto his yard to reload the engines. A couple of days later,*fn2 Plaintiff and Myers reloaded the engines onto the truck, and Myers turned the engines over to the Sheriff's Department.

Once Plaintiff arrived at the Sheriff's Department, Bates led him into a room and asked him to sit in a chair. Plaintiff complied. Plaintiff was then handcuffed to a ring that was attached to the wall and left alone in the room. About 30-45 minutes later, Defendant Senior Investigator Mark J. DeFrancesco entered the room and began questioning Plaintiff about his possession of the engines. DeFrancesco then prepared a statement for Plaintiff to sign which purportedly summarized the information that Plaintiff had just recounted to him. After reviewing the statement, Plaintiff refused to sign it because it falsely stated that he had been advised of his Miranda rights and inaccurately summarized the information that he had provided.

At that point, DeFrancesco drew up two Information-Complaints charging Plaintiff with criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree, in violation of New York Penal Law § 165.50, which is a Class D felony. These instruments were signed by DeFrancesco and witnessed by Defendant Supervisory Investigator Craig Apple. In addition to the information that Plaintiff had provided to him, DeFrancesco also relied upon information provided by Myers.*fn4 In a signed statement, Myers asserted the following:

On March 03, 1997 I contacted Lt. Craig Apple of the Albany County Sheriff's Department and turned over to him two engine blocks. . . . I got these engines from a friend of mine named [Brian] Rarick. . . . [Brian] had called me over the weekend of March 01 and 02, 1997 and told me that he had these engines on his property. In light of all that had happen[ed] involving Joey Clark we decided to get the engines and turn them over to the Sheriff's Department. On Monday March [03], 1997 I went to [Brian] Rarick's house. . . . I helped [Brian] load these two engines [onto] my flatbed truck. We used come-a-longs and winches to load them on the truck. The engines were located next to the pens that [Brian] has pigs in on his property. They were not covered and didn't appear to have been there long.
I don't know how [Brian] Rarick came into possession of the engines for sure. I thought [he] had gotten them [somehow] from Joey Clark. The engines that I turned over to the Sheriff's [Department] are the same two that I took from [Brian] Rarick which had been stored on his property.

Rarick Aff. Ex. 4. Plaintiff was then fingerprinted, photographed, and transported to the Westerlo Town Court for arraignment. He was released on $500 bail. The charges against Plaintiff were subsequently reduced to misdemeanor possession of stolen property in the fifth degree and were later dismissed altogether.

Plaintiff now sues all Defendants in their official capacities and Defendants DeFrancesco, Apple, and Bates in their individual capacities as well. In his complaint, Plaintiff brings one cause of action alleging false arrest and malicious prosecution pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, one cause of action alleging false arrest under state law, and one cause of action alleging malicious prosecution under state law. Defendants have moved for summary judgment on all grounds. The Court addresses each issue below.

III. Discussion

A. Official Capacity Causes of Action

1. The Albany County Sheriff's ...


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