United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Jonathan A. Strauss, Lorenz F. Fett, Jr., Sonia Miller-Van
Oort, and Robin W. Wolpert, Sapientia Law Group PLLC, for
Iverson, Stephanie A. Angolkar, and Susan M. Tindal, Iverson
Reuvers Condon, for Defendants Cities of Burnsville, Dayton,
Roseville and Wayzata and individuals David Luchsinger,
Richard Pietrzak, Dennis Mooney, and Timothy McCarthy.
RICHARD NELSON, United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on cross motions for summary
judgment. Defendant Cities of Burnsville, Dayton,
Roseville, and Wayzata and individual Defendants David
Luchsinger, Richard Pietrzak, Dennis Mooney, and Timothy
McCarthy (collectively, the “Moving Defendants”)
filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (“Moving Defs.'
Mot. for Summ. J.”) [Doc. No. 228].) Plaintiff Patricia
Mae Kerr Karasov also filed a Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment (“Pl.'s Mot. for Partial Summ. J.”)
[Doc. No. 238] as to portions of her claims against the
Moving Defendants. 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 the Moving
Defendants improperly accessed 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 Patricia Mae Kerr Karasov
Patricia Mae Kerr Karasov (“Karasov”) served as a
Hennepin County District Court Judge from 1995 until 2013.
(Aff. of Stephanie A. Angolkar (“First Angolkar
Aff.”) [Doc. No. 231], Ex. 1 (“Karasov
Dep.”) at 15 [Doc. No. 231-1].) Prior to that time, she
worked as an Assistant County Attorney for Hennepin County.
(Id.) Between 2009 and 2010, Karasov was
investigated by Minnesota's Board of Judicial Standards
(the “Board”) for allegedly living outside of her
judicial district, tax fraud, and refusal to cooperate with
the investigation. (See id. at 16-20.) She believes
the complaint against her was made public in October of 2010.
(See id. at 16-17.) The Board held hearings on the
complaint in January of 2011. (See id. at 110.)
Local media covered this investigation and the ensuing
hearings, but Karasov is not exactly sure when the coverage
began. (Id. at 17, 47, 81.) None of the Moving
Defendants were in involved with the investigation or
hearings. (Id. at 110-11.)
public figure, Karasov took certain steps to guard against
personal information, like her home address, being publicly
available. (See id. at 97-98.) However, in 2013,
Karasov was notified by the Department of Natural Resources
that one of its employees had used his law enforcement
credentials to access Karasov's-and other
women's-personal information in the Department of Vehicle
Service's (“DVS”) database (“DVS
Database”) for voyeuristic reasons. (Id. at
29, 50-51, 95-96.) Karasov was deeply concerned by this
incident and decided to request an audit report showing the
instances in which her DVS records were accessed.
(Id. at 28-29.) That audit revealed that numerous
other male law enforcement officers had accessed her personal
driver's license information over the course of several
years. (Id. at 96.) Learning about these accesses,
for which Karasov could discern no legitimate purpose, caused
her a great deal of anxiety about issues ranging from
identity theft, to her professional reputation, to her
personal safety. (See id. at 95-97, 108-09.) As she
describes it, “all these people have guns and they know
where I live. And I don't know who the outlier is. And
that causes me anxiety. Causes me to feel distressed. And
there is nothing I can do about it.” (Id. at
Defendants Timothy McCarthy and the City of Wayzata
Timothy McCarthy (“McCarthy”) is a police officer
for Defendant City of Wayzata (“Wayzata”).
(First Angolkar Aff., Ex. 2 (“McCarthy
Dep.”) at 5 [Doc. No. 231-2].) In this capacity,
McCarthy has access to and uses the DVS Database by virtue of
a user name and password provided by Wayzata. (Id.
at 17-19.) Prior to 2011, McCarthy knew he was supposed to
use the DVS Database only for business-related purposes, yet
admits to looking up friends, family members, and people in
the media out of personal curiosity. (Id. at 23, 34,
knew Karasov because he worked with her during the time she
was an Assistant County Attorney. (Id. at 12.)
However, he cannot recall having any interactions with her
since she became a judge in 1995. (Id. at 13.) He
was not involved in the Board's investigation of Karasov.
(Id. at 15.)
September 9, 2010, McCarthy accessed Karasov's personal
information in the DVS Database. (Id. at 15-16; Aff.
of Sonia Miller-Van Oort (“First Van Oort Aff.”)
[Doc. No. 241], Ex. E (“DVS Database Audit
Report”) at 1 [Doc. No. 241-5].) When questioned about
the reason for accessing her information McCarthy explained
Q: Okay. When you got notice of the suit and saw that
[Karasov] was the plaintiff did that refresh your
recollection what you had accessed her information in the DVS
A: Not so much refreshed it. Probably - it probably - yeah,
when I got it I'm probably thinking, well, I must have
checked her for some reason and then I remember her legal
stuff around that time.
Q: Okay. When you say her legal stuff, tell me what
you're referring to.
A: Where her - she was in the newspaper about her address
change and her address not being in Hennepin County.
Q: Did you access Judge Karasov's information when you
did because you had seen her in the news?
A: I'm assuming yes, that's why. Because I don't
sit and think about Judge Karasov on a daily basis.
Q: So what is it about what was in the news that made you
curious to look at her information in the DVS database?
A: It's hard to say now. You know, when you look back and
think, well, I was probably curious just to see maybe her
picture, maybe to see a little more detail. I don't know.
Q: In any event, your best recollection is that your access
of her didn't relate to any law enforcement task that you
A: Not that I can find. That's why I looked on my log to
see if there was something that I was dealing with that day
Q: And you didn't see anything?
(McCarthy Dep. at 14-15.) There is no evidence in the record
that Karasov was the subject of a Wayzata police
investigation, was pulled over in a traffic stop in Wayzata,
or had any contact with the Wayzata police department around
this time that could explain McCarthy's access of her
Defendants Dennis Mooney and the City of Roseville
the relevant period, Defendant Dennis Mooney
(“Mooney”) was a police officer for Defendant
City of Roseville (“Roseville”), but has since
retired. (First Angolkar Aff., Ex. 3 (“Mooney
Dep.”) at 9-10 [Doc. No. 231-3].) By virtue of his
position as a police officer, Mooney had access to the DVS
Database and used it to carry out some of his law enforcement
duties. (See id. at 20-21.) Mooney understood that
he was only to use the DVS Database for law enforcement
reasons, not personal reasons. (Id. at 22-23.)
does not know Karasov or her family. (Id. at 40,
46.) He does remember Karasov being in the news during the
Board's investigation and believes that this was his only
knowledge of her prior to this lawsuit. (See id. at
52, 58.) Mooney was not involved with the Board's
investigation of Karasov. (Id. at 32-33.) He cannot
recall any law enforcement need to access Karasov's
information in the DVS Database. (Id. at 50- 51.)
October 13, 2010, Mooney accessed Karasov's personal
information on the DVS Database. (Id. at 49; DVS
Database Audit Report at 1.) Mooney does not remember why he
accessed Karasov's information. (Mooney Dep. at 49-50.)
There is no evidence in the record that Karasov was the
subject of a Roseville police investigation, was pulled over
in a traffic stop in Roseville, or had any contact with the
Roseville police department around this time that could
explain Mooney's access of her information.
Defendants Richard Pietrzak and the City of Dayton
Richard Pietrzak (“Pietrzak”) is currently
retired, but during the relevant period served as chief of
police for Defendant City of Dayton (“Dayton”).
(First Angolkar Aff., Ex. 4 (“Pietrzak Dep.”) at
18 [Doc. No. 231-4].) Prior to serving in that role, Pietrzak
held other law enforcement positions in Minnesota.
(Id. at 18, 23-25.) As a police officer, including
as Chief in Dayton, Pietrzak regularly used the DVS Database
to carry out a variety of law enforcement functions.
(Id. at 67-69, 81.) However, Pietrzak also looked up
individuals in the database for personal reasons, like
checking the driving records of his ex-wife and daughters,
finding the Hennepin County Sheriff's address for a
Christmas card, and looking up his deceased father.
(Id. at 136-43.) Pietrzak claims he did not know
that using the DVS Database for personal reasons was
impermissible when he engaged in these accesses.
(Id. at 143-46.)
has no personal or professional relationship with Karasov.
(Id. at 102.) He believes that he knows of her only
through hearing about the Board's investigation in the
news. (See id. at 100-03.) However, Pietrzak was not
involved with that investigation. (See id. at
84-85.) Pietrzak is not aware of any contact between the
Dayton police department and Karasov during his time as
Chief. (Id. at 103-04.)
January 4 and 5, 2011, Pietrzak accessed Karasov's
personal information on the DVS Database. (DVS Database Audit
Report at 1.) He does not remember accessing this information
or his reason for doing so. (Pietrzak Dep. at 201.) There is
no evidence in the record that Karasov was the subject of a
Dayton police investigation, was pulled over in a traffic
stop in Dayton, or had any contact with the Dayton police
department around this time that could explain Pietrzak's
access of her information.
Defendants David Luchsinger and the City of
David Luchsinger (“Luchsinger”) is a police
officer for Defendant City of Burnsville
(“Burnsville”). (First Angolkar Aff., Ex. 4
(“Luchsinger Dep.”) at 7, 9 [Doc. No. 231-5].) By
virtue of his position as a police officer, Luchsinger had
access to the DVS Database and used it to carry out some of
his law enforcement duties. (Id. at 15-16.)
does not know Karasov or her family personally. (Id.
at 67-68, 70.) All he knows about Karasov is what he read and
heard about the Board's investigation of her in the news.
(Id. at 66-67.) However, Luchsinger was not involved
with the Board's investigation of Karasov. (Id.
January 5, 2011, Luchsinger accessed Karasov's personal
information in the DVS Database. (DVS Database Audit Report
at 2.) Luchsinger does not remember accessing Karasov's
information on this occasion or his reason for doing so.
(Luchsinger Dep. at 74-76.) He admits it is possible he
accessed her information based on his curiosity after reading
a newspaper article about the Board's investigation.
(Id. at 76- 77.) Luchsinger is unaware of any law
enforcement reason for his access of Karasov's
information. (Id. at 77.) There is no evidence in
the record that Karasov was the subject of a Burnsville
police investigation, was pulled over in a traffic stop in
Burnsville, or had any contact with the Burnsville police
department around this time that could explain
Luchsinger's access of her information.
How the Audit Report Tracks Database Accesses
Database tracks 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; Aff. of Stephanie A.
in Opp. to Pl.'s Mot. for Partial Summ. J.
(“Angolkar Aff. in Opp.”) [Doc. No. 244], Ex. 1
(“Jacobson Dep.”) at 152-53 [Doc. No. 244-1].) Law
enforcement using the DVS Database can search for an
individual in a variety of ways, including by name,
driver's license number, or license plate number.
(See Jacobson Dep. 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 Karasov's DVS record shows two lines
related to McCarthy's access on September 9, 2010. (DVS
Database Audit Report at 1.) It shows one line related to
Mooney's access on October 13, 2010. (Id.) The
report shows five lines associated with Pietrzak's
accesses-four lines related to the access on January 4, 2011
and one for the access on January 5, 2011. (Id.)
Finally, the report shows one line related to
Luchsinger's access on January 5, 2011. (Id. at
2.) The parties do not dispute how the audit report tracks
and presents accesses of information within the database.
However, as described below, they do dispute how this report
should be used to calculate the number of DPPA violations-if
the accesses were improper.
of 2014, Karasov brought suit against a variety of municipal
entities (including Burnsville, Dayton, Roseville, and
Wayzata) 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, Karasov 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. (Aff. of Sonia Miller-Van Oort in Opp. (“Van
Oort Aff. in Opp.”) at ¶ 2 [Doc. No. 248].) Many
of the Defendants Karasov did name immediately moved to
dismiss her claims. (Id. at ¶ 3.) Karasov's
counsel had attempted to engage in discovery to acquire the
names of individual defendants in other DPPA cases with a
similar posture, but “this was met with
resistance.” (Id.) Based on this prior
experience, Karasov's counsel did not attempt to
discovery the names of individual Defendants until after the
Court ruled on the motions to dismiss and the parties held
their Rule 26(f) conference. (See id.)
Court granted in part and denied in part the motions to
dismiss on January 8, 2015. (See Doc. No. 98.) That
order was subsequently amended on February 3, 2015.
(See Doc. No. 102.) Shortly thereafter, the parties
held their Rule 26(f) conference wherein Karasov
“clearly advised Defendants of [her] intention to amend
her Complaint to add individual defendants after their
identities were disclosed . . . .” (Van Oort Aff. in
Opp. at ¶ 3.) Defendants did not object. (Id.)