United States District Court, D. Minnesota
L. Miller-Van Oort, Jonathan A. Strauss, and Lorenz F. Fett,
Jr., Sapientia Law Group, for Plaintiff.
Stephanie A. Angolkar, Jon K. Iverson, and Susan M. Tindal,
Iverson Reuvers Condon, for Defendants Cities of Anoka,
Champlin, Coon Rapids, and Howard Lake, and Tony Jackson,
Roxanne Affeldt, Michael Sternquist, MariBeth Parks, and Ken
L. Hedin, pro se Defendant.
RICHARD NELSON United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on cross motions for summary
judgment. Defendant Cities of Anoka and Howard Lake and
individual Defendants Tony Jackson and Ken Rollins
(collectively, the “Moving
Defendants”) filed a Motion for Summary Judgment
(“Moving Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J.”) [Doc. No.
200]. Plaintiff Summer Michelle Rollins also filed a Motion
for Partial Summary Judgment (“Pl.'s Mot. for
Partial Summ. J.”) [Doc. No. 207] as to her claims
against Defendants Judy Hedin, Ken Rollins, and the City of
Howard Lake. For the reasons set forth below, the Moving
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is granted in
part and denied in part and Plaintiff's Motion for
Partial Summary Judgment is granted in part and denied in
suit stems from Plaintiff's allegations that Defendants
improperly accessed and disclosed her personal driver's
license information in violation of the Driver's Privacy
Protection Act (“DPPA”). On the parties'
cross motions for summary judgment, the Court recounts the
facts that are undisputed between the parties and notes where
material disputes arise.
Plaintiff Summer Michelle Rollins
Summer Michelle Rollins (“Summer”) is a single
mother of two children. (Aff. of Sonia Miller-Van Oort
(“First Van Oort Aff.”) [Doc. No. 208], Ex. A
(“Summer Depo.”) at 7, 14-15 [Doc. No.
208-1].) Her parents, Defendant Judy Hedin
(“Judy”) and Dean Rollins (“Dean”),
separated when she was young, but maintained an
on-again-off-again relationship. (Summer Depo. at 7; First
Van Oort Aff., Ex. B (“Judy Depo.”) at 160-61
[Doc. No. 208-1]). After her parents separated, Summer lived
with Judy until she was approximately sixteen, at which point
she moved in with Dean. (Summer Depo. at 7-8.) Summer admits
she used drugs during her adolescence, but claims that she
has not used them since that time. (See id. at
and Judy have not gotten along for many years and have been
largely estranged from one another. (Id. at 12-13;
Judy Depo. at 36-37.) In fact, Summer has had minimal contact
with much of her extended family. (See Summer Depo.
at 22.) When she did have contact with her extended family,
it was primarily with her father's brother, Defendant Ken
Rollins (“Ken”). (Id.)
2003, Plaintiff married Phil Krause (“Krause”)
and they had two children together. (See id. at 6-7,
14-15.) Summer and Krause were divorced in 2010.
(Id. at 6.) Initially, Summer had full custody of
the children, but that changed over time and by January of
2014, Krause and Summer split custody 50/50. (See
id. at 15-17.)
before her divorce was finalized, Summer began a relationship
with William McDonnell (“McDonnell”). McDonnell
and his mother moved into Summer's house in Coon Rapids,
Minnesota in the summer of 2010. (Id. at 14.)
Summer's family members-including Judy and Ken-were not
happy about her divorce or her relationship with McDonnell.
(Id. at 23-24, 26-27; Judy Depo. at 40, 95.)
Summer's relationship with her uncle Ken deteriorated
after her divorce and she has had minimal contact with him
since 2010. (See Summer Depo. at 23-26.)
and other members of Summer's family believed McDonnell
and Summer were involved with drugs together in the past and
possibly again in 2010 and after. (See Summer Depo.
at 26-28, 30; Judy Depo. at 165.) Summer's
family-including Judy, Dean, and Ken-were also concerned by
what Summer's children allegedly told them about the
behavior of McDonnell and Summer and their living
environment. (See Judy Depo. at 66-68, 140, 148-49;
Summer Depo. at 30-31.) In fact, between 2010 and 2012, Judy
and Dean contacted local officials and caused them to conduct
welfare checks on Summer and her children. (Judy Depo. at
68-71, 144-49; Summer Depo. at 30-31.) Summer has also
contacted law enforcement regarding child custody and
visitation disputes with Krause. (See Summer Depo.
April of 2012, Summer moved with McDonnell to Maplewood,
Minnesota. (Id. at 17-20.) However, she did not tell
her family-including Judy, Dean, Ken, and Krause-her new
address and did not want them to know where she lived.
(See id. at 43, 47-49, 80; Judy Depo. at 72-73.)
Defendant Judy Hedin
described above, Judy is Summer's mother and their
relationship has been tumultuous for many years. Since
Summer's divorce in 2010 and her ensuing relationship
with McDonnell, Judy has worried about Summer's welfare
as well as the welfare of Summer's children. (Judy Depo.
at 66-67, 74.) Judy and other Rollins family members have
asked that law enforcement check on the welfare of Summer and
her children, but these checks did not result in any legal
action. (Id. at 68-71.)
2002 until May of 2011, Judy worked as a license clerk
specialist at the Columbia Heights License Center.
(Id. at 57-58.) In this role, she would help
Minnesota residents with a variety of issues related to their
driver's licenses such as changing names and addresses
and renewing or replacing licenses. As part of her job, Judy
regularly accessed Minnesota's Driver and Vehicle
Services' (DVS) database (“DVS Database”).
(Id. at 61, 65.) The DVS Database contains personal
information about Minnesota drivers including photos, a
physical description of the individual, date of birth,
vehicle information, driving record, home address,
driver's license number, and more. (Aff. of Stephanie
Angolkar (“Second Angolkar Aff.”) [Doc. No. 221],
Ex. 10 (“Jacobson Depo.”) at 176-80 [Doc. No.
in May of 2012, Judy worked as a license clerk specialist at
the Coon Rapids License Center and performed the same duties.
(Judy Depo. at 57-59.) However, Judy does not believe she
ever served or otherwise assisted Summer as a license clerk
specialist. (Id. at 60.) Since at least 2008, Judy
was aware that using the DVS Database for personal reasons
was not allowed. (See id. at 86-88.)
accessed Summer's personal information on the DVS
Database numerous times between 2003 and 2012. (Id.
at 76.) Particularly relevant to this matter, Judy accessed
Summer's DVS Database information once on November 11,
2011 and twice on August 14, 2012. (Id. at 76; First
Van Oort Aff., Ex. D (“DVS Database Audit
Report”) at 1-2 [Doc. No. 208-2].) Judy explains that she
looked up Summer's information purely out of concern for
her grandchildren. (Judy Depo. at 65-66, 72, 74.)
Specifically, she claims that she wanted to know where Summer
had moved in 2012 in case law enforcement or the Rollins
family needed to check on Summer and her children.
(Id. at 65-66, 72.) Judy does not allege that she
had any other purpose in accessing Summer's DVS Database
information and was aware that Summer did not wish for Judy,
other Rollins family members, or Krause to know where she
lived. (See id. at 72-73.) On at least some
occasions, Judy shared the information she obtained from the
DVS Database with Dean. (Id. at 75.) Important here,
there is no evidence Judy actually used the information she
obtained from the DVS Database in 2011 and 2012 to have a
welfare check performed on Summer.
of 2013, Summer reported Judy to DVS based on her suspicion
that Judy was improperly accessing Summer's driver's
license information. (See First Van Oort Aff., Ex. G
at 21-23 [Doc. No. 208-2].) An investigation ensued and
resulted in Judy's suspension from her job for thirty
days without pay “for multiple unauthorized lookups of
Department of Public Safety-Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS)
information on family members and acquaintances.”
(See First Van Oort Aff., Ex. H at 24-26 [Doc. No.
208-2]; Judy Depo. at 77-87.) Judy signed a Last Chance
Agreement wherein she admitted to the unauthorized lookups,
agreed to the suspension, and acknowledged that her employer
would not defend her if any litigation arose out of those
lookups. (See First Van Oort Aff., Ex. I at 27-28
[Doc. No. 208-2]; Judy Depo. at 88.)
Defendants Ken Rollins and the City of Howard Lake
Summer's uncle, but has had limited interaction with her
in her adult years. (See Second Angolkar Aff., Ex. 3
(“Ken Depo.”) at 74-75, 82 [Doc. No. 221-3].)
Their relationship has been especially limited since
Summer's divorce in 2010 because Ken does not approve of
McDonnell. (See id. at 82-84.) Ken was aware of-and
shared- Judy's and Dean's concerns about the welfare
of Summer and her children. (See id. at 83-93.)
relevant times, Ken worked as a part-time patrol police
officer for the City of Howard Lake (“Howard
Lake”). (Id. at 6-7, 12-15.) As a police
officer, Ken had access to personal information on people
that the general public does not have. (See Id. at
73-74, 139-40.) One source of such information is the DVS
Database, which Ken typically used to run license plates to
determine if drivers' licenses were valid, identify
witnesses and suspects, and other law enforcement-related
activities. (See id. at 30-34.) Another is the
Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension's Database
(“BCA Database”), which also allows law
enforcement to access motor vehicle and driver's license
records. (Jacobson Depo. at 30-32, 252 (explaining
how the DVS and BCA Databases are separate, but closely
related in terms of the information they contain).) Ken knew
that he was prohibited from sharing personal information he
had access to with the public. (Ken Depo. at 73-74.) He also
understood that he was not to access the databases when
off-duty and should not “abuse” his access to
those systems. (See id. at 34-36.)
recounted a situation where a mother asked that a police
officer do a welfare check on her daughter who lived in
Howard Lake because the daughter was suicidal. (Id.
at 62.) Ken performed the welfare check, but refused to tell
the mother where her daughter lived because disclosing that
sort of information, even under those circumstances, was
improper. (Id. at 62-64.) When asked what he would
have done had the daughter lived in a jurisdiction other than
Howard Lake, Ken replied that he would have contacted a law
enforcement agency where the daughter lived and requested
that they perform the check. (Id. at 66.)
September of 2012, Dean provided Ken with Summer's
license plate number and asked that Ken find Summer's new
address. (Ken Depo. at 115-18, 137-38.) Ken
accessed Summer's information on September 14, 2012
through the BCA Database. (Id. at 131-32;
see First Van Oort Aff., Ex. E (“BCA Database
Audit Report”) at 3 [Doc. No. 208-2].) He then relayed
to Dean that the system still listed Summer's former Coon
Rapids address and suggested they try again later. (Ken Depo.
at 131-32) On March 3, 2013, Ken accessed Summer's
information on the DVS Database and believes he provided Dean
with Summer's new address. (Id. at 134-37; DVS
Database Audit Report at 2.) Ken also accessed Summer's
information through the BCA Database on March 3, 2013. (BCA
Database Audit Report.) Ken was on-duty as a Howard Lake
police officer each time he accessed Summer's
information. (Id. at 117, 133-34.)
explained why he obtained Summer's information as
Q: Okay. So why is it that your brother [Dean] needed you to
look up this information as opposed to a jurisdiction where
she [Summer] might live?
A: Because I was a cop and I was accessible. I suppose he
didn't want to go up to some strange cop and ask because
he probably would have got the same response like I gave the
one guy that - you know, I don't know that you're
family. He was family, I knew he was family. And he knew I
was family and he knew he could trust me and I knew I could
Q: So the bottom line is that you did it because he was your
brother and you wanted to help your brother?
Q: Okay. Even though in similar circumstances you might not
have given it to somebody else?
A: I wouldn't, of course not.
Q: Okay. So this was personal?
A: Yes. Well, it is personal from a law enforcement
perspective, you know, he came to an officer that he could
trust, that he knew he could get probably get the information
to see if it's correct. If it's, you know - and maybe
he didn't want to feel like a fool if he went to somebody
else and just said, hey, I don't know if you can do this
for me, but you know, will you run my daughter, and again,
how do they know that that really is family.
Q: Okay. When I say its personal I mean you did it - you
provided this information to your brother because he was your
brother and he asked you for it, correct?
Q: That's what I mean by personal; it was because of your
personal relationship, correct?
A: It was a personal relationship as a police officer though.
Q: Well, as a brother?
A: A brother who is a police officer who has the access.
(Id. at 140-41.) Important here, there is no
evidence that anyone ever requested that Ken do a welfare
check on Summer and her children, or that he cause other law
enforcement officers to perform such a check. Nor is there
any allegation that Ken had any other law enforcement reason
to obtain Summer's information in the DVS Database (e.g.,
that Summer requested he do so, that Summer was pulled over
for a traffic violation in Howard Lake, that Summer was the
target of a Howard Lake police investigation, etc.).
Defendants Tony Jackson and the City of Anoka
Jackson (“Jackson”) is an officer with the City
of Anoka's (“Anoka”) police department.
(See Aff. of Stephanie Angolkar (“First
Angolkar Aff.”) [Doc. No. 203], Ex. 2 (“Jackson
Depo.”) at 6-7 [Doc. No. 203-2].) He does not know
Summer or her family. (Jackson Depo. at 54-55, 97.) In 2010,
Jackson was assigned to the Anoka-Hennepin Drug Task Force
where he investigated drug-related tips. (Id. at 8.)
As part of that process, Jackson would access the DVS
Database to look up complainants, suspects, and confidential
informants related to the Task Force's investigations.
(See id. at 48-49, 53.)
point in 2010 or 2011, Jackson received training instructing
him that he could not access the DVS Database for personal
reasons. (Id. at 13.) Before this training, Jackson
claims he was unaware of any such restriction. (Id.
at 14-17.) Jackson admits that prior to receiving this
training, he accessed the DVS Database numerous times for
personal reasons (e.g., to look up family members and
celebrities, and based on his curiosity about people he had
met). (See id. at 17-18.)
September 13, 2010, Jackson accessed Summer's personal
information in the DVS Database. (Id. at 69-70, 73;
DVS Database Audit Report at 1.) Jackson does not remember
the specific reason why he accessed her information, but
based on the other individuals whose information he looked up
at that same time, believes it could have been connected to a
drug-related tip. (See Jackson Depo. at 71-75, 97,
112-13.) However, Jackson does not specifically recall Summer
making any drug-related complaint, being the subject of a
drug-related investigation, or serving as a confidential
informant. (See id. at 55-57, 104-05.) He does not
believe he ever interacted with Summer in a law enforcement
capacity and is not aware of any law enforcement
investigations or interactions with Summer generally.
(See id. at 58, 105-08.)
How the Audit Reports Track Database Accesses
and BCA Databases track when an individual's information
is accessed and, upon request, an audit report provides
information about these accesses-such as the date and time
the access occurred, the agency and specific user accessing
the information, and the type of information
viewed. (See DVS Database Audit Report;
BCA Database Audit Report; Jacobson Depo. at 152-53.) Law
enforcement using the DVS Database can find an individual in
a variety of ways, including by name, driver's license
number, or license plate number. (See Jacobson Depo.
at 61-62, 138-39, 242.) Once an officer locates the
individual's record within the database, he/she can make
further “queries” or select various
“tabs” depending on the particular information
he/she wishes to view for that individual (e.g., photos,
addresses, driving record, motor vehicle information, etc.)
(Id. at 144-48, 150-51, 247.)
here is how audit reports track and present accesses of
information in the DVS Database. An officer's initial
access of an individual's record appears as one
“line” on the audit report. (Id. at
139-40, 245-46.) From the “main page” for that
individual, the officer can then select a tab or run a query
for particular information. (Id. at 144-45, 247-48.)
If a query is made or a tab selected within the same minute
of the initial access, it does not appear as an
additional line on the audit report. (Id. at 145-46,
227-28, 255, 259-60.) As a result, any and all activity on an
individual's DVS Database profile within a given minute
is displayed as a single line on an audit report, regardless
of how many tabs within the profile are selected.
(Id. at 258-60.) However, if an officer views a
particular tab of information from one minute to the next
(e.g., 9:37am into 9:38am), or selects a new tab more than
one minute after his/her last selection, this fact will be
displayed as another line on the audit report. (See id.
at 150-52, 247-48, 254- 55, 258-60.)
audit report for Summer's DVS record shows three lines
related to Judy-one on November 16, 2011 and two on August
14, 2012. (DVS Database Audit Report at 1- 2.) That audit
report shows three lines associated with Ken, all on March 3,
2013. (Id. at 2.) That same report shows two lines
representing Jackson's access of Summer's information
on September 13, 2010. (Id. at 1.) The BCA audit
report shows three lines associated with Ken accessing
Summer's information-two lines on September 14, 2012 and
one on March 3, 2013. (BCA Database Audit Report.) The
parties do not dispute how the audit reports track and
present accesses of information within the databases.
However, as described below, they do dispute how these
reports should be used to calculate the number of DPPA
violations-if the accesses were improper.
January of 2014, Summer brought suit against a variety of
municipal entities (including Anoka and Howard Lake) and John
and Jane Doe defendants alleging that they violated the DPPA
by accessing her driver's license information without a
permissible purpose. (See Compl. [Doc. No. 1].)
Initially, Summer could not name specific individuals as
defendants because the Department of Public Safety
(“DPS”)- which oversees DVS-would not provide
that information without a subpoena or court order. (See
id. at ¶ 37; Aff. of Sonia Miller-Van Oort in Supp.
of Opp. to Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. (“Van Oort Aff.
in Opp.”) at ¶¶ 4, 5 [Doc. No. 219].)
Summer's counsel explains that-based on her unsuccessful
attempts to obtain discovery in another DPPA case while
motions to dismiss were pending-she did not serve a subpoena
on DPS until March of 2015, after Defendants' motions to
dismiss were resolved and the parties held their Rule 16(f)
conference. (Van Oort Aff. in Opp. at ¶ 4.) However, DPS
continued to refuse to identify individual accessors until
after Summer obtain a court order in June of 2015.
(Id. at ¶ 5.)
DPS identified the individual accessors, Summer sought a
stipulation from Defendants allowing her to amend her
complaint to identify individual Defendants. (Id. at
¶ 6.) Defendants initially refused and it was not until
August of 2015, after Summer filed a motion for leave to
amend her complaint, that they finally acquiesced to her
amendment. (Id.) Summer's amended complaint,
filed in ...