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Doe v. Minnesota Department of Public Safety Does 1-10

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

March 12, 2018

Jane Doe, Plaintiff,
v.
Minnesota Department of Public Safety Does (1-10), in their individual capacities; Kathy Daley, in her individual capacity; and Kim Jacobson, in her individual capacity, Defendants.

          Katelyn Rae Cartier, Consumer Justice Center, P.A., counsel for plaintiff.

          Jeffrey Kent Boman, counsel for defendants.

          ORDER

          David S. Doty, Judge

         This matter is before the court upon the motion to dismiss by defendants Kathy Daley and Kim Jacobson. Based on a review of the file, record, and proceedings herein, and for the following reasons, the court grants the motion.

         BACKGROUND

         This privacy dispute arises out of plaintiff Jane Doe's ongoing efforts to escape the threats and abuse of her ex-husband. Doe divorced her husband in 1999 after suffering years of physical abuse. Am Compl. ¶¶ 3-7, 26-27. In March 2000, Doe's ex-husband was convicted of assaulting her and sentenced to five years' imprisonment; however, he was granted a stay of imposition provided that he remain law abiding and successfully complete treatment. Id. ¶ 28. In July 2000, the Dodge County Court granted Doe's request to change her name so that she and her daughter could be safe from her ex-husband. Id. ¶¶ 29-30. The court ordered all documents in the matter sealed. Id. ¶ 30. Soon thereafter, the state issued Doe a driver's license under her new name. Id. ¶¶ 31-32. The federal government also issued her a new social security number. Id. ¶ 34. In the meantime, a warrant was issued for Doe's ex-husband's arrest following an undisclosed probation violation. Id. ¶ 33. It appears that he remains a fugitive.

         In October 2009, a police officer contacted Doe by letter in an effort to locate her ex-husband. Id. ¶ 38. Doe asked the officer how he found her address. Id. ¶ 39. He responded that her contact information was available on the Department of Vehicle Services (DVS) database.[1] Id. Doe then contacted the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to complain that her previous and assumed names were linked in the database in violation of the Dodge County order, but she alleges that nothing was done to correct the problem. Id. ¶ 42. Thereafter, between December 2009 and July 2017, Doe has been physically attacked several times either by her ex-husband or his associates, has been stalked, and has received numerous threatening phone calls and letters.[2] Id. ¶¶ 43, 45-46, 50-51, 55, 61-62, 64-65, 69-71, 81.

         Doe vaguely alleges that the link between her names in the database “otherwise made [her identity] available” to her ex-husband. Id. ¶ 60. She does not allege, however, that either her ex-husband or his associates have direct or indirect access to the DVS database or that the law enforcement officials who accessed her data communicated her location to her ex-husband or his associates or otherwise used the data for an improper purpose.

         In October 2016, Doe requested an audit from DPS to determine who had accessed her DVS motor vehicle record since June 1, 2008. Id. ¶ 53. The audit showed that the record had been accessed 43 times between October 4, 2009, and October 14, 2016, by various sheriff's and police departments and unidentified DVS users. Id. Doe then spoke with Defendant Kim Jacobson, the DPS data practices program administrator, regarding the audit and expressed concern that her previous and assumed identities were still linked in the database. Id. ¶¶ 10, 53, 56. Jacobson assured Doe that she would “break the link” between Doe's two identities and expressed surprise that they were still connected. Id. ¶¶ 56-57. Despite this assurance, Doe alleges that her identities remained linked.

Id. ¶ 58.

         On June 28, 2017, Doe contacted defendant Kathy Daley, supervisor of the DPS issuing department, about her DVS record. Id. ¶ 73. Daley explained that Doe's previous and assumed identities should never have been linked and told Doe that she would erase all reference to Doe's previous identity in the DVS database and issue her a new driver's license unaffiliated with her previous identity. Id. ¶¶ 74-75. Doe received a new license, but she alleges that her identities remain linked in the DVS database. Id. ¶¶ 77-78.

         After commencing this suit on September 7, 2017, Doe filed an amended complaint under seal on December 1, 2017, alleging that Jacobson, Daley, and unnamed DPS employees violated the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) by maintaining a link between her previous and assumed identities. She also alleges that defendants' acts and/or omissions constitute invasion of privacy under Minnesota law. Defendants now move to dismiss.

         DISCUSSION

         I. ...


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