The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hurd, U.S. District Judge.
MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER
Plaintiff Maryanne Sheldrick Paige ("Paige" or "plaintiff") instituted
this action on April 2, 1997, alleging causes of action pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983, 1985, and 1986. Specifically, Paige alleges
conspiracy to obstruct justice, failure to prevent the obstruction of
justice despite knowledge of the conspiracy, deprivation of liberty
without due process, denial of equal protection of the laws, denial of
her right to access the courts, and deprivation of her personal
security. Defendants Police Department of the City of Schenectady, City
of Schenectady, George A. Davidson, Richard X. Nelson, and Victor Palmo
(collectively the "City defendants") move for summary judgment. Defendant
Michael Guthinger ("Guthinger") separately moves for summary judgment.
Plaintiff opposes both motions. Oral argument was heard on April 28,
2000, in Albany, New York. Decision was reserved.
Paige alleges that late in the evening of August 12, 1981, when she was
twelve years old, a Schenectady police officer forced her into a marked
police vehicle, drove around the park, then assaulted her. According to
Paige, the officer fondled her, handcuffed her, and choked her until she
passed out or almost passed out. These allegations are disputed by
defendants; however, they are accepted as true since facts and inferences
therefrom must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmovant on
a motion for summary judgment.
Paige then found herself near the edge of the park in a ditch,
disoriented but no longer handcuffed. She went to a nearby sandwich
shop, where the police and her parents were called.
The following facts are undisputed, unless otherwise noted. Police
investigators responded to the call. Her father took her to the
hospital. Paige's injuries included abrasions to her wrists, marks on her
neck, and broken blood vessels in her eyes. It is disputed whether or not
photographs of plaintiff's injuries were taken at the hospital. Plaintiff
later gave a lengthy statement that was memorialized in writing by the
investigator and signed by her. This statement identified police vehicle
number 114 as the vehicle that was involved.
Police investigators, at some later time, took photographs of the
alleged crime scene at the park, accompanied by Paige. The investigation
continued, but vehicle 114 was not photographed nor processed as a crime
scene. The investigation revealed that vehicle 114 was driven by
Guthinger on the night in question.
The police called then-police officer Guthinger in for questioning, but
on the advice of counsel he asserted his Fifth Amendment right to remain
silent. Police discussed with Paige and her parents the possibility of
taking a lie detector test to substantiate her story, but the test was
never conducted. They also discussed a line up, but none was conducted.
No action was taken by the police department against Guthinger, either as
an internal disciplinary matter or as a criminal matter.
Four or five years after the alleged attack an attorney told Paige that
no file could be located regarding the 1981 incident. In 1989 plaintiff
saw Guthinger on a television report and seeing him confirmed that he was
her alleged assailant in 1981. At approximately the time she turned 18,
plaintiff made an informal request of the then-Mayor of the City of
Schenectady ("the Mayor") for information or records regarding the 1981
incident. The Mayor told plaintiff that there were no such records. She
never made a request for records under a freedom of information law.
In November 1996 a newspaper reporter revealed to Paige the existence
of the police file regarding the 1981 incident. The reporter apparently
contacted her as a follow up to a story about Guthinger being convicted
of attacking a woman in Central Park in 1995. This action followed.
Prior to answering plaintiff's complaint, the City defendants moved for
on statute of limitations grounds. Defendant Guthinger did not make a
similar motion. By Memorandum — Decision and Order filed on May 7,
1998, District Judge Lawrence Kahn found that plaintiff's allegation of
fraudulent concealment stated a claim and was sufficient to preclude
dismissal prior to completion of discovery. While the City defendants
argued that Paige had constructive knowledge at the time she reached age
eighteen to have brought the claims at that time, the court determined
that the earliest date it could identify as a matter of law, based upon
the allegations of the complaint, as the date of accrual was 1996.
Accordingly, the claims could not be dismissed at that time on statute of
limitations grounds. However, the court specifically reserved to the City
defendants the right to renew their motion to dismiss, on grounds other
than the statute of limitations, at a later time. It also acknowledged
that in the alternative, the defendants may wait until the completion of
discover to bring a motion for summary ...