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Potocnik v. Anoka County

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

February 21, 2014

Brian Potocnik, Plaintiff,
v.
Anoka County; Dakota County; Hennepin County; Sherburne County; St. Louis County; City of Apple Valley; City of Big Lake; City of Biwabik; City of Bloomington; City of Brooklyn Center; City of Brooklyn Park; City of Cambridge; City of Deephaven; City of Dilworth; City of Duluth; City of Eagan; City of Elk River; City of Farmington; City of Gilbert; City of Golden Valley; City of Hancock; City of Hoyt Lakes; City of Lake City; City of Lakeville; City of Minneapolis; City of Moorhead; City of New Hope; City of New Ulm; City of Redwood Falls; City of Rosemount; City of St. Paul; City of Virginia; City of Wells; Michael Campion, acting in his individual capacity as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety; Ramona Dohman, acting in her individual capacity and, in her official capacity for prospective relief only, as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety; John and Jane Does (1-300) acting in their individual capacity as supervisors, officers, deputies, staff, investigators, employees or agents of the others named law-enforcement agencies; Department of Public Safety Does (1-30 acting in their individual capacity as officers, supervisors, staff, employees, independent contractors or agents of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety; and Entity Does (1-30) including cities, counties, municipalities, Defendants.

Kenneth H. Fukuda, Esq., Lorenz F. Fett, Jr., Mark H. Zitzewitz, Esq., Sonia L. Miller-VanOort, Esq., Jonathan A. Strauss, Esq. and Sapientia Law Group PLLC, counsel for plaintiff.

Bryan D. Frantz, Esq. Anoka County Attorney's Office, Andrea G. White, Esq., Dakota County Attorney's Office, Beth A. Stack, Esq., Toni A. Beitz, Esq. and Hennepin County Attorney's Office, Joseph E. Flynn, Esq., Jamie L. Guderian, Esq. and Jardine, Logan & O'Brien, PLLP, Nick D. Campanario, Esq., Leslie E. Beiers, Esq. and St. Louis County Attorney's Office, Susan M. Tindal, Esq., Jon K. Iverson, Esq. and Iverson, Reuvers, Condon, M. Alison Lutterman, Esq., Nathan N. LaCoursiere, Esq. Duluth City Attorney's Office, John S. Garry, Esq., John R. Mule, Esq., Oliver J. Larson, Esq. and Minnesota Attorney General's Office, Suite Attorneys for defendants.

ORDER

DAVID S. DOTY, District Judge.

This matter is before the court upon the motions to dismiss by defendants and the motion to sever by Hennepin County.[1] Based on a review of the file, record and proceedings herein, and for the following reasons, the court grants the motions to dismiss and denies as moot the motion to sever.

BACKGROUND

This privacy dispute arises out of defendants' access of the motor vehicle record of plaintiff Brian Potocnik between 2003 and 2011. Compl. ¶ 2. Potocnik asserts claims against numerous counties and cities, as well as against the current and former commissioners of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS).

DPS makes drivers' motor vehicle records available to law enforcement officers through a computerized Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) database. Id . ¶ 55. In 2013, Potocnik requested an audit of his DVS motor vehicle record from DPS. Id . ¶ 3; see id. Ex. A. The audit showed that the record had been accessed hundreds of times from facilities maintained by defendant counties and cities. See Compl. ¶ 371. The record included his address, photograph, date of birth, eye color, weight, height, medical information and driver identification number. Id . ¶ 91. Each defendant city and county accessed the record between one and 309 times. See id. Ex. A. Potocnik alleges that there was no legitimate purpose for each access, and that the Commissioner Defendants "knowingly disclosed [his]... [p]rivate [d]ata and violated state policy by devising and implementing... [the DVS] database." Compl. ¶ 102.

On May 9, 2013, Potocnik filed suit, alleging claims (1) under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) and (2) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for damages and injunctive relief. The Commissioners, County and City Defendants each move to dismiss. Hennepin County also moves to sever.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. , 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff [has pleaded] factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). Although a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, it must raise a right to relief above the speculative level. See Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555. "[L]abels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" are not sufficient to state a claim. Iqbal , 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

II. DPPA Claims

Potocnik first asserts a claim against all defendants for violations of the DPPA. The DPPA provides that "[i]t shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to obtain or disclose personal information, [2] from a motor vehicle record, for any use not permitted under section 2721(b)[3] of this title." 18 U.S.C. § 2722. Under the DPPA, any "person[4] who knowingly obtains, discloses or uses personal information, from a motor vehicle record, for a purpose not permitted under this chapter shall be liable to the individual to whom the information ...


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