United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Sonia L. Miller-Van Oort, Esq., Sapientia Law Group, Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of Plaintiffs.
Susan M. Tindal, Esq., Iverson Reuvers Condon, Bloomington, MN, on behalf of Defendants City of Grand Rapids and City of Virginia.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
ANN D. MONTGOMERY, District Judge.
On March 23, 2015, the undersigned United States District Judge heard oral argument on City of Grand Rapids ("Grand Rapids") and City of Virginia's ("Virginia") (collectively, the "Defendants") Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket No. 158]. Plaintiffs Jennifer Rae Heglund and Jamie Lee Heglund (collectively, the "Plaintiffs") oppose the motion. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is denied.
This is an action alleging violations of the federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act ("DPPA"). Plaintiffs originally sued nearly three dozen Minnesota cities, over one dozen Minnesota counties, the current and former Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety ("DPS"), unknown DPS employees, unknown individuals, and unknown entities, including cities, counties, and municipalities, as defendants. In a July 22, 2014 Order [Docket No. 132], amended on September 5, 2014 [Docket No. 138], Plaintiffs' claims against multiple cities and counties were dismissed on statute of limitations grounds. See Heglund v. Aitkin Cnty., No. 14-296, 2014 WL 4414821, at *3 (D. Minn. Sept. 5, 2014) ("Dismissal Order"). Plaintiffs' invasion of privacy and Section 1983 claims, as well Plaintiffs' claims against the former and current DPS Commissioners were also dismissed. See id. at *6-7.
Although the complete background has been fully recited in the Dismissal Order, a brief summary of the alleged facts from the Complaint [Docket No. 1] will be provided. Jennifer Heglund ("Jennifer") is a former law enforcement officer who, between 1996 and 2012, worked for the Biwabik police department, the Hoyt Lakes Police Department, the Eveleth Police Department, and the St. Louis County Sheriff's Department. Compl. ¶¶ 74-79, 91. Prior to her current marriage to Jamie Heglund ("Jamie"), Jennifer was married to a Minnesota State Trooper. Id . ¶¶ 82, 84. The couple divorced in 2005. Id . ¶ 85. Jennifer alleges her ex-husband has harassed her and Jamie on multiple occasions and Jennifer is concerned he has obtained both her and Jamie's private information. Id . ¶¶ 98-99.
In 2013, Plaintiffs contacted the Minnesota DPS and requested an audit to determine if their private information had been viewed by access to the Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services Division database. Id . ¶¶ 401, 407. The audit revealed that between 2003 and 2013, individual defendants had accessed Jennifer's personal information 446 times. Id . ¶ 2, 105-06, 114-305, 426. The audit further revealed that, between 2006 and 2013, individual defendants had accessed Jamie's information 34 times. Id . ¶¶ 3, 101-06, 306-25, 327. Plaintiffs allege that the accesses were initiated by name, as opposed to license plate number, and that the individual defendants accessing the information did not have a permissible law enforcement purpose legally justifying their accesses. The accesses, including the one at issue here, are concentrated in the northern part of Minnesota, clustered in and around the cities and counties where Jennifer worked.
On December 1, 2014, Grand Rapids disclosed in its discovery responses that Assistant Chief of Police Frank Schref ("Schref") accessed Jennifer's data by name, opposed to license plate number or other identifier, multiple times in an extremely brief period of roughly one minute on March 25, 2010. Schref claims he does not know Jennifer, and although he does not recall why he accessed her information, he maintains he did not access her information "for personal reasons or out of personal curiosity." Schref Aff. [Docket No.161] ¶ 2.
Grand Rapids moved for summary judgment on the basis that Plaintiffs have no facts to show that Schref's access was unlawful. Plaintiffs' opposition is rooted in their belief that summary judgment is premature because they have not had an opportunity to conduct any discovery about Schref. Plaintiffs argue that by deposing Schref and his supervisor, facts may be uncovered to show Schref's access was unlawful.
Prior to the March 23, 2015 hearing on this motion, Plaintiffs moved to amend their pleadings [Docket No. 171]. On April 13, 2015, Magistrate Judge Brisbois granted Plaintiffs' request to substitute Doe Defendants with now-identified individuals and entities. The Amended Complaint [Docket No. 185] was filed on April 21, 2015. The defendants remaining in this action are the City of Grand Rapids, St. Louis County, Schref, seven named individuals affiliated with the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office, one named individual affiliated with the Hibbing Court House, and John and Entity Does.
Plaintiffs argue that summary judgment is improper for two reasons. First, Plaintiffs argue that Grand Rapids failed to comply with Magistrate Judge Brisbois' Pretrial Scheduling Order when making this motion. Plaintiffs additionally argue that they have not had ample opportunity to gain critical information to oppose Grand Rapids' motion. Grand Rapids responds that Plaintiffs have failed to comply with Rule 56(d), which requires showing through an affidavit or declaration that Plaintiffs cannot present facts essential to justify their ...