Doe v. Minnesota Department of Public Safety et al
ORDER granting 23 Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction (Written Opinion). Signed by Senior Judge David S. Doty on 3/12/2018. (DLO)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
Civil No. 17-4164(DSD/DTS)
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,
Katelyn Rae Cartier, Consumer Justice Center, P.A.,
Commerce Court, Vadnais Heights, MN 55127, counsel
Jeffrey Kent Boman, Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, 445
Minnesota Street, Suite 1100, St. Paul, MN 55101, counsel for
This matter is before the court upon the motion to dismiss by
defendants Kathy Daley and Kim Jacobson.
Based on a review of the
reasons, the court grants the motion.
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
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.
documents in the matter sealed.
Id. ¶ 30.
The court ordered all
Soon thereafter, the
state issued Doe a driver’s license under her new name.
Id. ¶¶ 31-
The federal government also issued her a new social security
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.
officer how he found her address.
Id. ¶ 38.
Id. ¶ 39.
Doe asked the
He responded that her
contact information was available on the Department of Vehicle
Services (DVS) database.1
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
Id. ¶ 42.
Thereafter, between December 2009 and July
2017, Doe has been physically attacked several times either by her
DPS makes drivers’ motor vehicle records available to law
enforcement officers through the DVS database.
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 exhusband.
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.
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
Id. ¶¶ 10, 53, 56.
Jacobson assured Doe that she would
surprise that they were still connected.
Id. ¶¶ 56-57.
this assurance, Doe alleges that her identities remained linked.
Doe has two orders of protection in place, neither of which
appear to deter her ex-husband. Id. ¶¶ 52, 63.
Id. ¶ 58.
supervisor of the DPS issuing department, about her DVS record.
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
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’
Defendants now move to dismiss.
Standard of Review
To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim,
“‘a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’”
Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009)
(quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).
has facial plausibility when the plaintiff [has pleaded] factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556
Although a complaint need not contain detailed factual
allegations, it must raise a right to relief above the speculative
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
“[L]abels and conclusions or a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” are not
sufficient to state a claim.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted).
Doe asserts a claim against all defendants, known and unknown,
for violations of the DPPA.
The DPPA provides that “[i]t shall be
unlawful for any person knowingly to obtain or disclose personal
permitted under section 2721(b)4 of this title.”
18 U.S.C. § 2722.
The DPPA defines “personal information” as including “an
identification number, name, address ..., telephone number, and
medical or disability information.” 18 U.S.C. § 2725(3).
Section 2721(b) provides that permissible uses include, but
are not limited to: court and law enforcement functions, motor
vehicle or driver safety or monitoring, certain conduct of
investigative agency or security service activities, and bulk
distribution of surveys and marketing materials. 18 U.S.C.
Under the DPPA, any “person5 who knowingly obtains, discloses or
uses personal information, from a motor vehicle record, for a
purpose not permitted under this chapter shall be liable to the
individual to whom the information pertains.”
Id. § 2724(a).
alleges that Daley, Jacobson, and unidentified employees of DPS
violated the DPPA by failing to decouple her previous and assumed
identities in the database.
This claim fails as a matter of law
for two fundamental reasons.
First, the amended complaint does not allege that Daley or
Jacobson (or any Doe defendant for that matter) knowingly obtained,
disclosed, or used Doe’s personal information from her DVS record.
To the contrary, Doe simply alleges that Daley and Jacobson failed
to decouple her identities when the error was brought to their
At most, then, Doe asserts that they were negligent in
allowing the information to continue to be made available on the
Doing so does not constitute obtaining, disclosing,
or using under the statute.
This court has made clear that the DPPA does not impose
liability on one who indirectly facilitates another’s access of a
motor vehicle record by maintaining an electronic database. Nelson
v. Jesson, No. 13-340, 2013 WL 5888235, at *3 (D. Minn. Nov. 1,
2013); see also Kiminski v. Hunt, Nos. 13-185, 13-208, 13-286, 13-
A “person” includes “an individual, organization or entity,
but does not include a State or agency thereof.”
18 U.S.C. §
358, 13-389, 2013 WL 6872425, at *9 (D. Minn. Sept. 20, 2013) (“But
the provision[s of the DPPA] may not be stretched to the point of
rewriting ... so [that the statute] reaches others at a state
agency who gave the officer database access for a
purpose, merely because they did so in a negligent manner.”);
McDonough v. Al’s Auto Sales, No. 13-1889, 2014 WL 683998, at *3
(D. Minn. Feb. 21, 2014), rev’d in part on other grounds by 799
F.3d 931 (8th Cir. 2015) (same).
Nor does the DPPA expressly
create a private right of action for mismanagement of records, and
the court declines to recognize one here.
See Kiminski, 2013 WL
6872425, at *9 (observing that, unlike the DPPA, the Internal
Revenue Code explicitly allows private damages claims for negligent
disclosures of confidential information).
Second, and crucially, Doe does not allege that any defendant
used her data for an impermissible purpose.
To the contrary, Doe
acknowledges that law enforcement officers did not misuse the data.
Hr’g Tr. at 11:21-23.
And her counsel conceded that Doe is “not
alleging that there is an impermissible use [of the data.]” Id. at
13:13-14. She does not even allege that her ex-husband directly or
indirectly accessed her data through the database.
appears to be no causal link between her continued abuse and the
content of her DVS record.
Because impermissible purpose is a
necessary element to a private right of action under the DPPA, Doe
fails to state a claim under the statute.
The court understands the difficult position plaintiff is in
and sympathizes with her, but the DPPA does not provide her with
The court nevertheless trusts that the DPS has already
remedied the situation so that Doe may have some peace of mind.
III. State-law Claim
Because the court has dismissed Doe’s federal claim, the only
claim for which original jurisdiction existed, the court must
consider whether to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the
remaining state-law claim for invasion of privacy.
See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1367(c)(3); Johnson v. City of Shorewood, Minn., 360 F.3d 810,
819 (8th Cir. 2004). “[I]n the usual case in which all federal-law
claims are eliminated before trial, the balance of factors to be
considered under the pendent jurisdiction doctrine - judicial
economy, convenience, fairness, and comity - will point toward
declining to exercise jurisdiction over the remaining state-law
Dodson v. Univ. of Ark. for Med. Scis., 601 F.3d 750, 756
(8th Cir. 2010) (per curiam) (quoting Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v.
Cahill, 484 U.S. 343, 350 n.7 (1988)); see also Kapaun v. Dziedzic,
674 F.2d 737, 739 (8th Cir. 1982) (“The normal practice where
federal claims are dismissed prior to trial is to dismiss pendent
claims without prejudice, thus leaving plaintiffs free to pursue
their state-law claims in the state courts.”).
Based on consideration of the pendent jurisdiction factors,
the court will not exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the
state-law claim for invasion of privacy.
The remaining claim
depends solely on determinations of state law.
See Farris v.
Exotic Rubber and Plastics of Minn., Inc., 165 F. Supp. 2d 916, 919
(D. Minn. 2001) (“State courts, not federal courts, should be the
final arbiters of state law.”) (quoting Baggett v. First Nat’l Bank
of Gainesville, 117 F.3d 1342, 1353 (11th Cir. 1997)).
the parties have yet to engage in discovery, and the court has not
expended substantial resources tending to this matter.
circumstances, the court is satisfied that declining to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction will not harm the parties.
dismisses the state-law claim without prejudice.
Accordingly, based on the above, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
The motion to dismiss [ECF No. 23] is granted;
The DPPA claim is dismissed with prejudice; and
The state-law claim is dismissed without prejudice.
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.
Dated: March 12, 2018
s/David S. Doty
David S. Doty, Judge
United States District Court
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