The judge ruled there was a lack of evidence that access was improper, and also applied a statute of limitations of four years from the time the driver’s license information was accessed.
(Published Nov 25, 2013)
Cities received good news recently when a federal district court judge dismissed claims that several cities and counties had improperly accessed driver’s license information.
Over the past several months, many cities have received claims and lawsuits alleging misuse of driver’s license information. Federal law defines the permissible purposes for which driver’s license information may be accessed and used, and provides for damages and attorney’s fees when information is accessed and used inappropriately. To date, the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) has received claims from 73 individuals, who have made 931 claims against just over 190 different trust members.
On Nov. 15 Federal District Court Judge Joan Erickson dismissed claims brought by Hillary and Jon DeVary against numerous cities and counties. Judge Erickson ruled that the plaintiffs had not met their burden of bringing forth facts to suggest that access to information was improper.
Equally important, the judge applied a four-year statute of limitations for bringing the suits, ruling that the plaintiffs must bring their suits within four years of when their license information was accessed. Plaintiffs had argued for a four-year period commencing on the date that plaintiffs first became aware of the access. The ruling on the statute of limitations is important because many of the allegations of improper access occurred in the mid-2000s.
While cities are rightly pleased with Judge Erickson’s ruling, it is only one decision in one case among many, and it’s likely to be appealed. The League continues to urge LMCIT member cities to immediately contact the LMCIT claims department at firstname.lastname@example.org, (651) 281-1200, or (800) 925-1122 as soon as a claim, lawsuit, or data practices request for Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) information is received.
Additionally, to clarify questions about DVS database access policies, LMCIT continues to make available to all cities a web-based course addressing the “Ethical Use of Computers and Databases” through its Police Accredited TRaining OnLine (PATROL) program. For information about the course, contact Laura Honeck at email@example.com or (651) 281-1280.
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