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Pavone v. Law Offices of Anthony Mancini, Ltd.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

September 7, 2016



          MATTHEW F. KENNELLY, District Judge

         Antonio Pavone alleges that the Law Offices of Anthony Mancini, Ltd., [1] violated section 2722 of the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), 18 U.S.C. § 2722(a), by obtaining Pavone's personal information from a motor vehicle record, for a use not permitted by the DPPA. He seeks an award of statutory and punitive damages. Mancini has moved for entry of summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the Court denies Mancini's motion but orders further briefing on the question of Pavone's standing to sue.


         On January 15, 2015, Pavone was involved in an automobile accident, and his wife and child were in the vehicle with him. An officer from the Schaumburg Police Department arrived on the scene. During his deposition, Pavone testified that the officer asked for his driver's license and insurance card and also asked him to describe how the accident had happened. The officer also asked Pavone who was in the car with him (and Pavone provided this information), but aside from these questions, the officer asked nothing else. Pavone stayed in his car during the encounter. The officer later returned Pavone's license and insurance card, and he also gave Pavone a printout of a "driver exchange form, " which provides information from and regarding the crash report.

         Within days of the accident, Mancini, a Chicago attorney, ran a search for Illinois crash reports on a website owned by iyeTek, LLC, a third-party provider that sells crash reports and crash report preparation software. Mancini testified that he searched crash reports on the site to solicit business for his law firm. He found and purchased the report of Pavone's accident. He had no prior acquaintance with Pavone.

         Mancini then sent a letter to Pavone's home address, which he obtained from the crash report. In the letter, Mancini said he understood that Pavone may have suffered injuries in an automobile accident, and he solicited Pavone to retain him to recover compensation. Am. Compl., Ex. A. With the letter, Mancini sent a copy of the crash report concerning Pavone's accident. The report contained Pavone's name, home address, telephone number, date of birth, gender, and driver's license number.

         Pavone filed this lawsuit about four weeks later. His wife and son were included as plaintiffs. The Court denied Mancini's motion to dismiss in July 2015. Pavone v. Law Ofcs. of Anthony Mancini, Ltd., 118 F.Supp.3d 1004 (N.D. III. 2005). The claims of Mrs. Pavone and the Pavones' child were voluntarily dismissed with prejudice in March 2016.


         The DPPA provides that "[a] person 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" for actual or statutory damages, punitive damages, and attorney's fees. 18 U.S.C. § 2724(a), (b). '"[P]ersonal information' means information that identifies an individual, including an individual's photograph, social security number, driver identification number, name, address (but not the 5-digit zip code), telephone number, and medical or disability information, but does not include information on vehicular accidents, driving violations, and driver's status." Id. § 2725(3). '"[M]otor vehicle record' means any record that pertains to a motor vehicle operator's permit, motor vehicle title, motor vehicle registration, or identification card issued by a department of motor vehicles." Id. § 2725(1).

         Mancini has moved for summary judgment on several grounds. First, he argues that the DPPA does not apply because crash reports are not motor vehicle records. Second, he contends that the DPPA concerns only records that originated with the Illinois Secretary of State or that were obtained from the Secretary of State, which he says is not the case with the records he obtained. Third, Mancini argues that Pavone cannot show that he knowingly obtained personal information covered by the DPPA. Fourth, Mancini contends that his actions are exempt due to state law. Fifth, he argues that if Pavone's theory of liability is viable, the DPPA runs afoul of the First Amendment. Sixth, Mancini questions the Court's subject matter jurisdiction, contending that Pavone has not suffered a concrete harm that provides him with standing to sue under Article III of the U.S. Constitution.

         Summary judgment is proper when the moving party shows that there is no genuine dispute of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A genuine issue of material fact exists when, based on the record, a reasonable fact finder could find in favor of the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). The Court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draws reasonable inferences in that party's favor. See, e.g., Oliva v. Blatt, Hasenmiller, Leibsker & Moore, LLC, 825 F.3d 788, 791 (7th Cir. 2016). To survive summary judgment, the nonmoving party must show that a reasonable fact finder could find in its favor on each essential element of its case on which it bears the burden of persuasion. See Kampmier v. Emeritus Corp., 472 F.3d 930, 936 (7th Cir. 2007).

         1. Obtaining and using personal information

         It appears undisputed that Mancini obtained from the crash report, and used, Pavone's name, home address, driver identification number (driver's license number), date of birth, gender, and telephone number. All of this constitutes personal information as the DPPA defines that term. The first three items are specifically enumerated in the statute's definition of personal information found in 18 U.S.C. § 2725(3). But "personal information" is not limited to the specifics listed in the statute; it means any "information that identifies an individual, " which includes, but is not limited to, the listed items. Id.; see Dahlstrom v. Sun-Times Media, LLC, 777 F.3d 937, 943 (7th Cir.), cert, denied, 136 S.Ct. 689 (2015). The other items of information at issue meet the statute's definition and thus qualify as personal information. See Id. at 944. As the Court stated in denying Mancini's motion to dismiss, the statutory term is appropriately interpreted broadly, because "protecting personal information . . . serves the two purposes of the DPPA-to prevent stalkers and criminals from using motor vehicle records to acquire information about their victims and to protect against the States' common practice of selling personal information to businesses engaged in direct marketing and solicitation." Pavone, 118 F.Supp.3d at 1006 (citing Dahlstrom, 777 F.3d at 943-44) (internal quotation marks omitted)

         Mancini argues that the DPPA provides a plaintiff with a cause of action only if an officer, employee, or contractor of a department of motor vehicles has obtained, used, or disclosed the plaintiff's personal information from a motor vehicle record. See Def.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. at 4-5. The Court disagrees. Though 18 U.S.C. § 2721 imposes upon employees or contractors of a department of motor vehicles a prohibition against disclosure of personal information, the prohibitions in section 2722 or section 2724 are not limited in that way. Section 2722 makes it unlawful "for any person knowingly to obtain or disclose personal information, from a motor vehicle record, for any use not permitted under section 2721(b) of this title." 18 U.S.C. § 2722(a) (emphasis added). And section 2724, the provision of the DPPA that confers a private right of action, likewise imposes civil liability upon "[a] person who knowingly obtains, discloses or uses personal information, from a motor vehicle record, for a purpose not permitted under this chapter. . . ." Id. § 2724(a).

         2. From a ...

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