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Babu v. City of Becker

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

March 20, 2015

Nadine Babu, Plaintiff,
v.
City of Becker; Benton County; City of Blaine; City of Bloomington; City of Cottage Grove; City of Eagan; City of Eden Prairie; Fillmore County; City of Hopkins; City of Lake Crystal; City of Minneapolis; City of Minnetonka; City of Moorhead; City of Orono; Sherburne County; Washington County; Michael Campion, in his individual capacity as the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety; Ramona Dohman, in her individual capacity as the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety; 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, Defendants.

Lorenz F. Fett, Jr., Esq., Sonia L. Miller-Van Oort, Esq., Jonathan A. Strauss, Esq. and Sapientia Law Group PLLC, 120 South Sixth Street, Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN, 55402, counsel for plaintiff.

Jon K. Iverson, Esq., Stephanie A. Angolkar, Esq., Susan M. Tindal, Esq. and Iverson Reuvers Condon, 9321 Ensign Avenue South, Bloomington, MN 55438, counsel for Cities of Becker, Blaine, Bloomington, Cottage Grove, Eagan, Eden Prairie, Hopkins, Lake Crystal, Minnetonka, Moorhead and Orono.

Jamie L. Jonassen, Esq., Joseph E. Flynn, Esq. and Jardine, Logan & O'Brien PLLP, 8519 Eagle Point Boulevard, Suite 100, Lake Elmo, MN 55042, counsel for the counties of Benton, Sherburne and Washington.

Darla J. Boggs, Esq., Gregory P. Sautter, Esq. and Office of the City Attorney, 350 South Fifth Street, City Hall, Room 210, Minneapolis, MN 55415, counsel for City of Minneapolis.

Oliver J. Larson, Esq., Minnesota Attorney General's Office, Suite 1800, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101, counsel for Michael Campion and Ramona Dohman. Bloomington, MN, counsel for Cities.

ORDER

DAVID S. DOTY, District Judge.

This matter is before the court upon the motions to dismiss by defendants[1] and the motions to sever by all defendants except the Commissioner Defendants. 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 motions to sever.

BACKGROUND

This privacy dispute arises out of defendants' access of the motor vehicle record of plaintiff Nadine Babu between 2009 and 2013. Compl. ¶ 2. Babu is a social media strategist, who has commented on University of Minnesota sports in print, on the radio, and on television. Id . ¶¶ 39-44. Babu asserts claims against numerous counties and cities, as well as against the current and former commissioners of the Minnesota Department of Safety (DPS). This case is just one of many nearly identical cases filed in this district, six of which this court previously dismissed. See Potocnik v. Anoka Cnty., No. 13-1103, 2014 WL 683980 (D. Minn. Feb. 21, 2014); Bass v. Anoka Cnty., 998 F.Supp.2d 813 (D. Minn. 2014); McDonough v. Al's Auto Sales, Inc., No. 13-1889, 2014 WL 683998 (D. Minn. Feb. 21, 2014); Tichich v. City of Bloomington, No. 14-298, 2014 WL 3928530 (D. Minn. Aug. 12, 2014); Kendall v. Anoka Cnty., No. 14-247, 2014 WL 3955265 (D. Minn. Aug. 13, 2014); Nyhus v. City of Blaine, No. 13-2878, 2014 WL 4348239 (D. Minn. Sept. 2, 2014).

DPS makes drivers' motor vehicle records available to law enforcement officers through a computerized Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) database. Compl. ¶¶ 45, 137. Babu requested an audit of her DVS motor vehicle record from DPS. Id . ¶ 204. The audit showed that the record had been accessed 40 times since 2009 from facilities maintained by defendant counties and cities. See id. ¶ 211; see id. Ex. A. The record included her address, photograph, date of birth, weight, height, eye color, driver identification number, social security number, and medical and donor information. Id . ¶ 314. Babu alleges that there was no legitimate purpose for each access, and that the Commissioner Defendants "disclosed... [her] [p]rivate [d]ata... by devising and implementing... the DVS database." Id . ¶ 172.

On October 24, 2014, Babu filed suit, alleging a claim under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). The City Defendants, County Defendants, and Commissioner Defendants move to dismiss. All defendants except the Commissioner Defendants also move 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) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). "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." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (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. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. ...


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