United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Samantha Orduno, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
Richard Pietrzak, in his individual capacity as the Chief of Police of the City of Dayton; City of Dayton; John and Jane Does (1-120) acting in their individual capacity as supervisors in the City of Dayton; Michael Campion, in his individual capacity as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety; Ramona Dohman, in her individual capacity as the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety; John and Jane Doe Employees of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety in their individual capacities as officers, supervisors, staff, employees, independent contractors or agents of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety; Defendants.
Jonathan A. Strauss, Esq., Sapienta Law Group, Minneapolis, MN, and Susan M. Holden, Esq., Sieben Grose Von Holtum & Carey, Ltd., Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of Plaintiff.
John K. Iverson, Esq., Stephanie A. Angolkar, Esq., and Susan M. Tindal, Esq., Iverson Reuvers Condon, Bloomington, MN, on behalf of Defendants Richard Pietrzak and the City of Dayton.
Oliver J. Larson, Esq., Minnesota Attorney General's Office, St. Paul, MN, on behalf of Michael Campion and Ramona Dohman.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
ANN D. MONTGOMERY, District Judge.
Before the Court is the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioners Michael Campion and Ramona Dohman's (collectively, "DPS Commissioners") Motion to Dismiss [Docket No. 5] and Dayton Police Chief Richard Pietrzak ("Pietrzak") and the City of Dayton's Partial Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [Docket No. 13]. For the reasons stated below, both motions are granted.
Orduno alleges Pietrzak or another City of Dayton employee accessed her driver's license information without a proper purpose 28 times between February 27, 2008 to October 4, 2012. Compl. [Docket No. 1] Ex. A. Orduno alleges that Pietrzak accessed her personal information in retaliation for public comments she made that were critical of his performance. Compl. ¶ 26-29. Orduno also alleges the DPS Commissioners failed to implement systems or procedures to adequately protect her private data and limit access to those with a legitimate purpose.
A. Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services Records Database
The Driver and Vehicle Services Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety ("DPS") maintains a password protected database of Minnesota drivers' motor vehicle records ("DVS database"), which includes each licensed driver's name, date of birth, driver's license number, address, photograph, weight, height, eye color, social security number, and some limited disability information. Law enforcement personnel and other state agency employees have access to the DVS database.
B. Driver's Privacy Protection Act
This case is one of many very similar cases brought in this jurisdiction under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act ("DPPA"). Under the DPPA, each time a driver's information is accessed from the DVS database, it must be for a "permissible use" as defined by the statute. 18 U.S.C. § 2721(b). The DPPA prohibits "any person" from "knowingly... obtain[ing] or disclos[ing] personal information, from a motor vehicle record, for any use not permitted under Section 2721(b) of this title." Id . § 2722. As defined by the Act, "personal information" means basic identification information including name, photograph, address, social security number, and driver's license number. See id. § 2725(3). The Act lists numerous permitted uses, including "use by any government agency, including any court or law enforcement agency, in carrying out its functions...." Id . § 2721(b)(1). The circuit courts which have addressed the issue of burden of proof have held the plaintiff has the burden of proving each element of the civil claim, including whether the retrieval was for a "purpose not permitted" by the Act. See Thomas v. George, Hartz, Lundeen, Fulmer, Johnstone, King, & Stevens, P.A. , 525 F.3d 1107, 1110-14 (11th Cir. 2008); Maracich v. Spears , 675 F.3d 281, 299-300 (4th Cir. 2012); Howard v. Criminal Info. Servs., Inc. , 654 F.3d 887, 890-91 (9th Cir. 2011).
A. Legal ...