378 F.3d 839 (8th Cir. 2004), 03-3307, Davenport v. Farmers Ins. Group

Docket Nº:03-3307.
Citation:378 F.3d 839
Party Name:Charles DAVENPORT; Brent Johnson, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Appellants, v. FARMERS INSURANCE GROUP; Illinois Farmers Insurance Company; Paul Peterson; Does 1 through 50, Appellees.
Case Date:July 28, 2004
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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378 F.3d 839 (8th Cir. 2004)

Charles DAVENPORT; Brent Johnson, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Appellants,

v.

FARMERS INSURANCE GROUP; Illinois Farmers Insurance Company; Paul Peterson; Does 1 through 50, Appellees.

No. 03-3307.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

July 28, 2004

Submitted: May 12, 2004.

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Richard A. Lockridge, argued, Minneapolis, MN (Robert K. Shelquist and Matthew R. Salzwedel of Minneapolis, MN on the brief), for appellant.

Christopher Morris, argued, Minneapolis, MN (Lewis A. Jemele, Jr., and

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Charles E. Lundberg of Minneapolis, MN on the brief), for appelee.

Before WOLLMAN, HEANEY, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.

HEANEY, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiffs Charles Davenport and Brent Johnson brought this suit on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, alleging that Defendants Farmers Insurance Group, Illinois Farmers Insurance Company, Paul Peterson, and Does 1 through 50 (collectively referred to as Farmers) violated the Minnesota Insurance Fair Information Reporting Act (MIFIRA) by collecting and disclosing their personal information without first providing them notice and securing their written authorization. Farmers moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim, arguing that the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) preempted the MIFIRA. Although the district court found that the FCRA did not preempt the MIFIRA, it nonetheless granted Farmers' motion, concluding that the MIFIRA did not require Farmers to notify the plaintiffs or obtain their written authorization before gathering their personal information. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

BACKGROUND

Since the district court decided this matter based on a motion to dismiss, we recite the facts as alleged in the complaint, viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs. Schaller Tel. Co. v. Golden Sky Sys., Inc., 298 F.3d 736, 740 (8th Cir. 2002). Charles Davenport and Brent Johnson1 are both Minnesota residents who have purchased property and automobile insurance policies from Farmers for over ten years. Farmers sells insurance, and is licensed to do business in Minnesota. Within the last five years, Farmers obtained the plaintiffs' personal information, including credit reports, for purposes unrelated to any claims made by them. Farmers did not provide Davenport or Johnson any notice of its intent to procure this information, nor did it receive written authorization from Davenport or Johnson to do so.

On February 3, 2003, Davenport and Johnson filed suit on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, alleging violations of Minnesota law. Specifically, they argued that Farmers violated the MIFIRA by collecting and disclosing personal information about policyholders and potential policyholders without first notifying them or receiving written authorization to procure such information. Farmers moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim, arguing that federal law preempted the MIFIRA because the FCRA allows the collection and disclosure of such information without any notice to or authorization from consumers. The district court determined that the MIFIRA was not preempted by the FCRA, but that the MIFIRA did not provide the plaintiffs any relief because it allowed disclosure of personal information without written authorization where such disclosure was permitted by another law, such as the FCRA. Accordingly, the district court granted Farmers' motion, and this appeal followed.

ANALYSIS

We review the district court's order dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim de novo, granting no deference to its interpretation of either federal

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or state law. Raz v. United States, 343 F.3d 945, 947 (8th Cir. 2003) (per curiam) (citations omitted). "When considering a motion to dismiss, we take the complaint's material allegations as true and liberally construe the complaint in the plaintiff's favor." Rucci v. City of Pacific, 327 F.3d 651, 652 (8th Cir. 2003).

Minnesota, through the MIFIRA, regulates the collection and disclosure of consumers' personal information by insurance companies doing business in the state. See generally Minn.Stat. §§ 72A.494-72A.505. The federal government, through the FCRA, also governs the collection, retention, and use of consumer information...

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