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Boyce v. Fernandes

77 F.3d 946 (1996)

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Boyce v. Fernandes

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

77 F.3d 946 (1996)

Facts

Claudine Boyce (plaintiff) was the housekeeper for Auda Tunis, an elderly woman suffering from dementia. Boyce manipulated Tunis into signing a general power of attorney and had Tunis admitted to a nursing home. The attorney who prepared the power of attorney was not aware that Tunis had an adult granddaughter. Tunis arrived at the nursing home without her jewelry and with evidence of physical abuse. Boyce also removed all the furniture from Tunis’s house and stored it in her garage, awaiting sale, and transferred the title of Tunis’s Cadillac into her own name. Tunis’s adult granddaughter contacted the police about suspected elder abuse, and Detective Vera Fernandes (defendant) investigated. Detective Fernandes interviewed Tunis, who told her that Boyce had threatened, abused, and stolen from her. Detective Fernandes corroborated Tunis’s claims with testimony from the granddaughter, the staff of the nursing home, and the lawyer who prepared the power of attorney, as well as by tracing Tunis’s Cadillac to Boyce’s driveway and confirming the registration had been changed into Boyce’s name. Detective Fernandes arrested Boyce for the theft of the Cadillac, but Boyce was never prosecuted. Boyce sued Detective Fernandes for false arrest pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that the power of attorney shielded her from claims of theft. The trial court dismissed the suit on summary judgment, finding it was barred by Fernandes’s qualified immunity. Boyce appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Posner, C.J.)

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