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Bass v. Anoka County

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

February 21, 2014

Brooke Nicole Bass, Plaintiff,
Anoka County; Benton County; Blue Earth County; Carver County; Chisago County; Clay County; Cook County; Crow Wing County; Dakota County; Dodge County; Goodhue County; Hennepin County; Houston County; Kandiyohi County; Lyon County; McLeod County; Morrison County; Murray County; Pipestone County; Ramsey County; Rice County; Scott County; Sherburne County; Stearns County; Washington County; Wright County; City of Alexandria; City of Anoka; City of Apple Valley; City of Appleton; City of Becker; City of Bemidji; City of Big Lake; City of Blaine; City of Bloomington; City of Brooklyn Center; City of Brooklyn Park; City of Burnsville; City of Champlin; City of Cottage Grove; City of Crystal; City of Dayton; City of Eagan; City of Elk River; City of Elko New Market; City of Fairmont; City of Faribault; City of Farmington; City of Forest Lake; City of Fridley; City of Gaylord; City of Hopkins; City of Inver Grove Heights; City of Jackson; City of Jordan; City of Kasson; City of Maple Grove; City of Maplewood; City of Marshall; City of Medina; City of Minneapolis; City of Minnetonka; City of Minnetrista; City of Moorhead; City of Morris; City of Mounds View; City of New Hope; City of New Ulm; City of North Mankato; City of North St. Paul; City of Oakdale, City of Osseo, City of Plymouth; City of Princeton; City of Prior Lake; City of Ramsey; City of Richfield; City of Robbinsdale; City of Rosemount; City of Roseville; City of Sartell; City of Savage; City of Shakopee; City of Slayton; City of Sleepy Eye; City of Spring Lake Park; City of St. Anthony; City of St. Cloud; City of St. Francis; City of St. Joseph; City of St. Louis Park; City of Stillwater; City of Two Harbors; City of Wayzata; City of West Saint Paul; City of Winona; Michael Campion, acting in his individual capacity as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety; Mona Dohman, acting in her individual capacity as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety; John and Jane Does (1-500) acting in their individual capacity as supervisors, officers, deputies, staff, investigators, employees or agents of the other 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 (1-50) including cities, counties, municipalities, and other entities sited in Minnesota and federal departments and agencies, Defendants

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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, Minneapolis, MN, counsel for plaintiff.

Bryan D. Frantz, Esq. Anoka County Attorney's Office, Anoka, MN; Andrea G. White, Esq., Dakota County Attorney's Office, Hastings, MN; Beth A. Stack, Esq., Toni A. Beitz, Esq. and Hennepin County Attorney's Office, Minneapolis, MN; Andrea K. Naef, Esq., Kristin R. Sarff, Esq., Minneapolis City Attorney's Office, Minneapolis, MN; Kimberly R. Parker, Esq., Robert B. Roche, Esq. and Ramsey County Attorney's Office, St. Paul, MN; Joseph E. Flynn, Esq., Jamie L. Guderian, Esq. and Jardine, Logan & O'Brien, PLLP, Lake Elmo, MN; Susan M. Tindal, Esq., Jon K. Iverson, Esq. and Iverson, Reuvers, Condon, Bloomington, MN; John S. Garry, Esq., John R. Mule, Esq., Oliver J. Larson, Esq. and Minnesota Attorney General's Office, St. Paul, MN, Attorneys for defendants.


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David S. Doty, United States District Judge.


This matter is before the court upon defendants' motions to dismiss and motions for judgment on the pleadings.[1] Hennepin County also moves to sever the claims against it. Based on a review of the file, record and proceedings herein,

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and for the following reasons, the court grants the motions to dismiss and the motions for judgment on the pleadings and denies as moot the motion to sever.


This privacy dispute arises out of defendants' access of the motor vehicle record of plaintiff Brooke Nicole Bass between 2005 and 2012. Compl. ¶ 260. Bass 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. ¶ 128. In 2013, Bass requested an audit of her 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 her address, photograph, date of birth, weight, height, eye color and driver identification number. Id. ¶ 227. Each City and County Defendant accessed the record between one and seventy-four times. See id. Ex. A. Bass alleges that there was no legitimate purpose for each access, and that the Commissioner Defendants " knowingly disclosed [her] ... [p]rivate [d]ata and violated state policy by devising and implementing ... the DVS Database." Compl. ¶ 240.

On April 12, 2013, Bass filed suit, alleging claims (1) under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), (2) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and (3) for invasion of privacy. The Commissioners, County and City Defendants each move to dismiss or for judgment on the pleadings.[2] Hennepin County also moves to sever.


I. Standard of Review

The same standard governs a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim

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under Rule 12(b)(6) and a motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c). See Clemons v. Crawford,585 F.3d 1119, 1124 (8th Cir. 2009). 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, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (citing Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). Although a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, it must raise a right to relief above the speculative level. See Twombly, 550 ...

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