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Diamond v. Hastie

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

June 18, 2019

KIMBERLY HASTIE, in her individual capacity, Defendant.



         This matter is before the Court on Diamond's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 108), Hastie's Response (Doc. 116), and Diamond's Reply (Doc. 120).

         I. Background

         This action centers on alleged violations of the Drivers' Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2721, et. seq. (DPPA) and privacy rights per Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The "DPPA prohibits the obtainment or disclosure of personal information from motor vehicle records for any use not permitted under the fourteen specific exceptions delineated in § 2721(b) the Act. 18 U.S.C. § 2722(a)." Baas v. Fewless, 886 F.3d 1088, 1090 (11th Cir. 2018). As explained in Maracich v. Spears, 570 U.S. 48, 57-58 (2013):

To obtain a driver's license or register a vehicle, state DMVs, as a general rule, require an individual to disclose detailed personal information, including name, home address, telephone number, Social Security number, and medical information. See Reno v. Condon, 528 U.S. 141, 143…(2000)…..
The DPPA provides that, unless one of its exceptions applies, a state DMV “shall not knowingly disclose or otherwise make available” “personal information” and “highly restricted personal information.” §§ 2721(a)(1)-(2). “[P]ersonal information” is “information that identifies an individual, including [a]...driver identification number, name, address ..., [or] telephone number, ... but does not include information on vehicular accidents, driving violations, and driver's status.” § 2725(3). “[H]ighly restricted personal information” is defined as “an individual's photograph or image, social security number, [and] medical or disability information.” § 2725(4). The DPPA 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.” § 2722(a). 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.” § 2724(a).
The DPPA's disclosure ban is subject to 14 exceptions set forth in § 2721(b), for which personal information “may be disclosed.” ….

         On April 14, 2015 (amended on August 18, 2017 and September 22, 2017), Plaintiff Arnita Diamond (Diamond) filed a complaint alleging that Defendant Kimberly Hastie[1] (Hastie) unlawfully obtained, used and/or disclosed her personal information of Mobile, Alabama (email address) from motor vehicle records in violation of the Drivers' Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2721, et. seq. (DPPA) (Count I) and in violation of her privacy rights under Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count II). (Docs. 1, 28, 36 (amended)). Concerning the DPPA violations (Count I) Diamond alleges that:

…During August 2013, Defendant Hastie, acting under color of the law, and in the course and scope of her employment, knowingly and under misinterpretation of federal law, authorized, directed, ratified, approved, acquiesced in, committed, or participated in, acts and practices in direct violation of the DPPA when she ordered an employee of the Mobile County License Commission to access Plaintiff['s]…Personal Information contained in motor vehicle records.
Hastie ordered the employee to access motor vehicle records and gather the email addresses of all Mobile County residents who reside within the city limits and place that Personal Information onto an electronic storage device (a “thumb drive”).
Hastie then ordered that the Personal Information be provided to the campaign of a local political candidate. Non-parties Chad Tucker (“Tucker”) and Strateco, LLC (“Strateco”), knowingly received the Personal Information and utilized it in order promote a local political candidate, a purpose not permitted under the DPPA.

(Doc. 36 at 5). Diamond's' DPPA count (Count I) specifies that Hastie's "accessing, obtaining, disclosing and/or using" Diamond's motor vehicle record violate Section 2724(a) of the DPPA. (Id. at 9).

         Based on Hastie's conduct, Diamond's Complaint seeks -- per Section 2724(b)(1) --liquidated damages of $2, 500 per occurrence (each instance Hastie unlawfully obtained, used, and/or disclosed protected personal information); punitive damages; and attorneys' fees.[2] In Count II, with regard to Section 1983, Diamond alleges that she had a reasonable expectation of privacy as to the personal information provided to the Mobile County License Commission, and that Hastie deprived her of her rights to privacy as secured by the DPPA.[3] (Doc. 36 at 11). From this, Diamond claims attorneys' fees and costs. (Id. at 12). On summary judgment, Diamond seeks entry of judgment in her favor and against Hastie as to DPPA liability, damages (minimum statutory $2, 500), and attorneys' fees (to be submitted at a later date).

         II. Standard of Review

         “The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R.

         Civ. P. 56(a). Rule 56(c) provides as follows:

(c) Procedures
(1) Supporting Factual Positions. A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by:
(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or
(B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.
(2) Objection That a Fact Is Not Supported by Admissible Evidence. A party may object that the material cited to support or dispute a fact cannot be presented in a form that would be admissible in evidence.
(3) Materials Not Cited. The court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record.
(4) Affidavits or Declarations. An affidavit or declaration used to support or oppose a motion must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant or ...

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