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Kampschroer v. Anoka County

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 2, 2017

Jessica Leah Kampschroer and Cory Patrick Kampschroer, Plaintiffs,
Anoka County, et al., Defendants.

          Sonia Miller-Van Oort, Jonathan A. Strauss, Lorenz F. Fett, Jr., and Robin W. Wolpert, Sapientia Law Group PLLC, Jeffrey M. Montpetit, Marcia K. Miller, Susan M. Holden, SiebenCarey, P.A., for Plaintiffs.

          Stephanie A. Angolkar, Jon K. Iverson, and Susan M. Tindal, Iverson Reuvers Condon, for Defendants Cities of Anoka, Apple Valley, Arlington, Baxter, Belle Plaine, Blaine, Bloomington, Braham, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Brownton, Burnsville, Cambridge, Cannon Falls, Champlin, Chaska, Chisago City, Columbia Heights, Coon Rapids, Corcoran, Cottage Grove, Crosby, Crystal, Deephaven, Dundas, Eagan, Eden Prairie, Elk River, Fairmont, Faribault, Farmington, Foley, Forest Lake, Fridley, Glencoe, Golden Valley, Goodview, Hastings, Hopkins, Howard Lake, Hutchinson, Inver Grove Heights, Isanti, Jordan, Lakeville, Litchfield, Mankato, Maple Grove, Maplewood, Medina, Mendota Heights, Minnetoka, Montgomery, Moorhead, Morristown, Mounds View, New Brighton, New Hope, New Prague, Newport, North Saint Paul, North Mankato, Northfield, Owatonna, Prior Lake, Ramsey, Richfield, Robbinsdale, Rochester, Rosemount, Roseville, Sartell, Savage, Shakopee, Spring Lake Park, Saint Anthony Village, Saint Cloud, Saint Francis, Saint Louis Park, Saint Paul Park, Saint Peter, Staples, Stillwater, West Saint Paul, Waite Park, Wayzata, White Bear Lake, and Woodbury, and Defendants Centennial Lakes Police Department, Dakota Communications Center, and Lakes Area Police Department.

          Ann E. Walther and Erik Bal, Rice, Michels & Walther, LLP, for Defendant Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

          Toni A. Beitz, Daniel D. Kaczor, Beth A. Stack, Hennepin County Attorney for Defendant Hennepin County.

          Cheri M. Sisk, City of St. Paul Attorney for Defendant City of St. Paul.

          Douglas A. Boese, Gregory J. Griffiths, and Jennifer Marie Peterson, Dunlap & Seeger, P.A., for Defendant Olmsted County.

          Joseph E. Flynn and Robert I. Yount, Jardine, Logan & O'Brien, PLLP, for Defendants Counties of Beltrami, Benton, Blue Earth, Carver, Cass, Chisago, Crow Wing, Faribault, Fillmore, Goodhue, Grant, Hubbard, Isanti, Kanabec, Le Sueur, McLeod, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Nicollet, Pine, Rice, Scott, Sherburne, Stearns, Steele, Wadena, Washington, Winona, and Yellow Medicine.

          Bryan D. Frantz, Anoka County Attorney for Defendant Anoka County.

          Mark P. Hodkinson, Bassford Remele, P.A. for Defendant City of Edina.

          Kristin R. Sarff, Lindsey E. Middlecamp, and Gregory P. Sautter, Minneapolis City Attorney for Defendant City of Minneapolis.


          SUSAN RICHARD NELSON, United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment (“Mots. for Summ. J.”) [Doc. Nos. 334, 339]. For the reasons set forth below, the Motions for Summary Judgment are granted and Plaintiffs' claims based on accesses that occurred prior to September 15, 2009 are dismissed.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural History

         Plaintiffs Jessica Leah Kampschroer and Cory Patrick Kampschroer (collectively, the “Kampschroers”) assert claims under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (the “DPPA”) against Defendants. (See Second Am. Compl. [Doc. No. 20].) In relevant part, the DPPA prohibits accessing an individual's private motor vehicle records without a permissible purpose. 18 U.S.C. §§ 2721(b), 2722(a). The Kampschroers allege that Defendants accessed Jessica's private records approximately 1, 400 times, and Cory's records 92 times, for impermissible reasons between 2003 and 2013. (See Second Am. Compl. at ¶¶ 2-3.) Defendants are state and municipal entities-or divisions or agencies of those entities-such as counties, cities, police departments, and sheriffs' departments. Notably, the Driver and Vehicle Services Division (“DVS”) of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) is not a Defendant.

         Defendants previously moved to dismiss the Kampschroers' claims. (See Mots. to Dismiss [Doc. Nos. 54, 93, 99, 110, 116, 121, 126, 130, 131, 138, 141, 151, 155, 164].) The Court granted in part and denied in part these motions. See Kampschroer v. Anoka Cty., 57 F.Supp.3d 1124 (D. Minn. 2014), aff'd, 840 F.3d 961 (8th Cir. 2016). In relevant part, the Court held that the DPPA's four-year statute of limitations barred all of the Kampschroers' claims related to accesses that occurred prior to September 15, 2009, unless equitable tolling applied. Id. at 1136. The Kampschroers alleged that Pat McCormack (“McCormack”), the director of DVS, made “intentional and fraudulent” misrepresentations to them about the extent of Defendants' improper accesses, which caused the Kampschroers not to investigate the issue further. (See Second Am. Compl. at ¶¶ 410-26.) Notably, the Kampschroers did not allege that anyone other than McCormack misled them on this subject. Based on these allegations, the Court allowed limited discovery on the issue of equitable tolling.[1] Kampschroer, 57 F.Supp.3d at 1137.

         The parties engaged in equitable tolling-related discovery and Defendants now move for summary judgment, arguing that equitable tolling does not apply and thus the Kampschroers' claims based on accesses before September 15, 2009 are time-barred. (See Mots. for Summ. J.) The Kampschroers contend that disputed material facts preclude summary judgment, or that the Court should decline to rule on the equitable tolling issue until additional discovery is completed. (See Pls.' Mem. in Opp. to Mots. for Summ. J. (“Pls.' Mem. in Opp.”) at 1-2 [Doc. No. 344].)

         B. Facts

         1. The Kampschroers

         Jessica Kampschroer, who before her marriage to Cory Kampschroer was Jessica Miles (“Miles”[2]), has been a broadcast journalist since 1999. (Aff. of Stephanie A. Angolkar (“Angolkar Aff.”) [Doc. No. 337], Ex. 1 (“Miles Dep.”) at 11-13[3] [Doc. No. 337-1].) Since 2003, Miles has been a news anchor and reporter for KSTP and KSTC, which are both owned by Hubbard Broadcasting. (Id. at 13-14.) Cory Kampschroer (“Cory”)[4] has also been a journalist since 1999. (Angolkar Aff., Ex. 2 (“Cory Dep.”) at 15 [Doc. No. 337-2].) From 2006 until 2010, he was a news anchor and reporter for WCCO. (Id. at 16.) Since 2010, Cory has worked for Hubbard Broadcasting as its Digital Media Director. (Id. at 14.) The Kampschroers began dating in 2006 and were married in 2009. (Miles Dep. at 8-9.) They were living together in 2008. (Id. at 9.)

         2. DVS, the Databases, and Audits

         As previously described, DVS is a division of DPS and McCormack was at all relevant times its director. (See Angolkar Aff., Ex. 4 (“McCormack Dep.”) at 14-15, 18- 19 [Doc. No. 337-4].) In 2008, DPS maintained two databases-E-Support (sometimes referred to as the “DVS Database”) and LE-Support-that contained personal information about Minnesota citizens such as name, address, driving record, motor vehicle records, warrants, etc. (See Id. at 11-14, 26-27, 90.) The databases contained some of the same information, but the agencies and entities accessing these databases did so for different purposes. (Id. at 12, 21.) DVS employees used E-Support in connection with their duties related to drivers' licenses and vehicle records, while state, county, and municipal law enforcement agencies used LE-Support, but also had access to E-Support. (Id. at 14, 27-28, 35, 159.) In 2008, an information technology (“IT”) department within DPS was responsible for overseeing the technical aspects of the E-Support and LE-Support databases. (Id. at 19, 89.) This IT department did not report to McCormack or DVS, but rather to the Commissioner of DPS. (Id. at 20.)

         McCormack's responsibilities included supervising DVS employees and handling discipline-related issues. (Id. at 19.) Part of her responsibilities included monitoring and auditing DVS employees' use of the E-Support database to ensure that their accesses were only for permissible purposes (i.e., job related and not out of personal curiosity). (See Id. at 29, 32, 36, 51-52, 140.) McCormack did not conduct the audits herself, but rather asked the IT department to run audits. (Id. at 29, 91-92.) McCormack would then review summaries of the audits, but not the audits themselves. (Id. at 112-14.)

         Occasionally, the DPS Commissioner would ask McCormack to assist with auditing law enforcement's use of the databases. (See Id. at 30-31, 35.) For example, if DPS received a complaint about a law enforcement agency's accesses and wanted to audit that agency's use of E-Support, the Commissioner would ask McCormack to perform that audit. (See Id. at 34-35, 134.) However, McCormack would only audit law enforcement accesses under such “special circumstances”-she had no authority to undertake such an audit on her own. (Id. at 35-36, 40.) McCormack explained that in 2008 she “didn't deal with law enforcement data” and that “law enforcement data was a whole different issue that was handled through . . . the Commissioner's office.” (Id. at 75.) As a general matter, McCormack did not oversee law enforcement agencies' use of the databases and did not receive audit reports on such use. (Id. at 75-76.) Although law enforcement agencies had access to E-Support, DVS did not monitor their use of that database. (Id. at 159.)

         3. The 2008 DVS Audit

         In early 2008, McCormack had an “internal audit” done as part of her efforts to supervise and monitor her employees' use of E-Support. (McCormack Dep. at 43-44, 47-49.) For instance, this audit looked at whether DVS employees were accessing the database outside of work hours-a strong indication that such accesses were improper. (See Id. at 141-42.) The internal audit revealed that two DVS employees had accessed Miles' records. (See Id. at 50, 59-60, 95, 169-71.) These accesses were investigated and McCormack testified that the accesses of one employee were deemed to be improper. (See Id. 96-97, 100, 169-74.) The employee who improperly accessed Miles' records was disciplined. (See Id. at 56-58, 137-38.)

         The scope of this internal audit is important to the parties' arguments. The audit did not encompass law enforcement or non-DVS county and municipal agencies. (See id. at 169 (confirming that the audit was limited to DVS staff).) The following exchange from McCormack's deposition describes the scope of the audit:

Q: Okay. So do you recall specifically whether you then took the subjects of the accesses done by that particular employee and [sic] to see all of the accesses done by anyone of that employee including state and county law enforcement personnel?
A: No, we have no authority over law enforcement. We wouldn't be doing anything to do with law enforcement. …
Q: Let me restate that. So any subject - any audit of the subject of that employee's access would not have encompassed any county or state employee unless they worked for the deputy registrar's office or the drivers license bureau?
A: Well, I wouldn't because that's the only people that I had any type of oversight on. I certainly wouldn't have been able to do that or made that decision.
Q: Okay. So when you ran these internal audits, you would not look at any accesses from any non-DVS employees except for the deputy registrars and drivers license people, correct?
A: Correct.

(Id. at 45-46 (emphasis added).)

         4. McCormack Contacts Miles

         In late May of 2008, McCormack sent a letter to Miles regarding the DVS employee's accesses of her information. (Angolkar Aff., Ex. 3 (“May 2008 DVS Letter”) [Doc. No. 337-3]; McCormack Dep. at 41-42.) The letter was on DPS ...

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