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Graczyk v. West Publishing Corp.

December 23, 2009

LISA M. GRACZYK, MATTHEW M. JORGE, AND BRIAN WILLINGHAM, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
WEST PUBLISHING CORP., A MINNESOTA CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Robert W. Gettleman

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Lead plaintiffs Lisa M. Graczyk, Matthew M. Jorge, and Brian Willingham have brought a three count putative class action complaint against defendant, West Publishing Corporation, alleging violation of the Driver's Privacy Protection Act ("DPPA"), 18 U.S.C. § 2722 et seq., (Count I), unjust enrichment (Count II), and a claim for injunctive relief (Count III). Defendant has moved to dismiss the entire complaint for failure to state a claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and for lack of standing pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). For the reasons explained below, defendant's motions are granted.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs allege that defendant acquired motor vehicle records and the corresponding "personal information" and/or "highly restricted personal information" of millions of licensed drivers, including plaintiffs, from the department of motor vehicles of various states*fn1 (and/or entities that acquired this information from those states) under the pretense that the data would be used only for legitimate purposes outlined in the DPPA. Defendant then allegedly made the information in the records available for search and sale on the internet.

DISCUSSION

I. Driver's Privacy Protection Act

State Departments of Motor Vehicles ("DMVs") require drivers and motor vehicle owners to supply personal information, such as their names, addresses, telephone numbers, Social Security numbers, photographs, medical conditions, and vehicle descriptions when applying for a driver's license or registering a vehicle. Reno v. Condon, 528 U.S. 141, 143 (U.S. 2000). In 1993 Congress enacted the Driver's Privacy Protection Act ("DPPA") to protect these individuals' privacy by setting limits on how state DMVs can share this personal information.*fn2

The DPPA generally prohibits state DMVs, their officers, employees, or contractors from "knowingly disclos[ing] or otherwise mak[ing] available to any person or entity personal information . . . or highly restricted personal information about any individual obtained by the department in connection with a motor vehicle record."*fn3 18 U.S.C. § 2721(a). The DPPA also provides a private right of action whereby: "[A] person who knowingly obtains, discloses or uses 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, who may bring a civil action in a United States District Court." 18 U.S.C. § 2724(a).

The DPPA's general prohibition on disclosure of personal information is subject to 14 exceptions which allow for the limited disclosure of personal information. 18 U.S.C. § 2721(b) provides:

Permissible Uses - Personal information referred to in subsection (a) shall be disclosed for use in connection with matters of motor vehicle or driver safety and theft, motor vehicle emissions, motor vehicle product alterations, recalls, or advisories, performance monitoring of motor vehicles and dealers by motor vehicle manufacturers, and removal of non-owner records from the original owner records of motor vehicle manufacturers to carry out the purposes of titles I and IV of the Anti Car Theft Act of 1992, the Automobile Information Disclosure Act

(15 U.S.C. 1231 et seq.), the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.), and chapters 301, 305, and 321-331 of title 49, and, subject to subsection (a)(2), may be disclosed as follows:

(1) For use by any government agency, including any court or law enforcement agency, in carrying out its functions, or any private person or entity acting on behalf of a Federal, State, or local agency in carrying out its functions.

(2) For use in connection with matters of motor vehicle or driver safety and theft; motor vehicle emissions; motor vehicle product alterations, recalls, or advisories; performance monitoring of motor vehicles, motor vehicle parts and dealers; motor vehicle market research activities, including survey research; and removal of non-owner records from the original owner records of motor vehicle manufacturers.

(3) For use in the normal course of business by a legitimate business or its agents, employees, or contractors, but only--

(A) to verify the accuracy of personal information submitted by the individual to the business or its agents, employees, or contractors; and

(B) if such information as so submitted is not correct or is no longer correct, to obtain the correct information, but only for the purposes of preventing fraud by, pursuing legal remedies against, or recovering on a debt or security interest against, the individual.

(4) For use in connection with any civil, criminal, administrative, or arbitral proceeding in any Federal, State, or local court or agency or before any self-regulatory body, including the service of process, investigation in anticipation of litigation, and the execution or enforcement of ...


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