Pryor v. Reno, Civil Action No. 97-D-1396-N.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
Writing for the CourtDe Ment
Citation998 F.Supp. 1317
PartiesBill PRYOR, Attorney General for the State of Alabama, and the State of Alabama, Plaintiffs, v. Janet RENO, Attorney General of the United States, and the United States of America Defendants.
Decision Date13 March 1998
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 97-D-1396-N.
998 F.Supp. 1317
Bill PRYOR, Attorney General for the State of Alabama, and the State of Alabama, Plaintiffs,
v.
Janet RENO, Attorney General of the United States, and the United States of America Defendants.
Civil Action No. 97-D-1396-N.
United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division.
March 13, 1998.

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COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

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Jack M. Curtis, Dept. of Public Safety, Billington M. Garrett, Office of Attorney General, Montgomery, AL, for Plaintiffs.

Leura J. Garrett, Asst. U.S. Atty, Montgomery, AL, Frank W. Hunger, Asst. Atty. Gen., Dept. of Justice, Vincent M. Garvey, Dept. of Justice, Washington, DC, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DE MENT, District Judge.


On September 18, 1997, Plaintiffs Bill Pryor, Attorney General for the State of Alabama, and the State of Alabama (referred to collectively as "Plaintiffs," "Alabama" and "the State") filed this action, seeking (1) a declaratory judgment that the Driver's Privacy Protection Act of 1994, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2721-25, is unconstitutional under the Tenth and Eleventh Amendments to the United States Constitution, and (2) a preliminary

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and permanent injunction prohibiting Defendants Janet Reno and the United States (referred to collectively as "Defendants" and "the United States") from enforcing the Act in whole or in part.1 Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on December 22, 1997. Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss on January 5, 1998, which, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b), the court construes as a Motion for Summary Judgment, as well.2

After careful consideration of the arguments of counsel, the relevant law and the record as a whole, the court finds that Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment is due to be denied, and Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is due to be granted. Accordingly, Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction is due to be denied as moot. This Memorandum Opinion and Order disposes of all matters before the court.3

BACKGROUND

The Driver's Privacy and Protection Act of 1994 ("DPPA" or "the Act"), 18 U.S.C. §§ 2721, et seq., regulates the sale, dissemination and use by the State and private individuals of personal information contained in State motor vehicle records.4 The Act prohibits "a State department of motor vehicles, and any officer, employee, or contractor, thereof, [from] knowingly disclos[ing] or otherwise mak[ing] available to any person or entity personal information about any individual obtained by the department in connection with a motor vehicle record." 18 U.S.C. § 2721(a). It makes it unlawful for a State department of motor vehicles, and any officer, employee, or contractor thereof, to knowingly disclose or otherwise make available personal DMV information for any purpose other than a "permissible use." 18

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U.S.C. § 2721(b).5 State departments of motor vehicles with a "policy or practice of substantial noncompliance" with the Act's provisions are subject to a civil penalty of up to $5,000 a day for each day of substantial noncompliance, to be imposed by the United States Attorney General. 18 U.S.C. § 2723(b). Persons who knowingly violate the Act are subject to criminal fines. 18 U.S.C. § 2723(a).

The DPPA also regulates private individuals' sale or disclosure of the above information. The Act prohibits authorized recipients of personal DMV information from reselling or redisclosing personal information for a use for which the state could not have disclosed it in the first place. 18 U.S.C. § 2721(c); 18 U.S.C. § 2722(a). The Act requires that individuals reselling or redisclosing personal information for a permissible use keep records for five years stating to whom they have resold or redisclosed the information and the purpose of any such release, and must make these records available to the state department of motor vehicles upon request. 18 U.S.C. § 2721(c). Furthermore, the Act bars any person from knowingly obtaining personal DMV information for any unauthorized use, 18 U.S.C. § 2722(a), and from obtaining personal information "by false representation," 18 U.S.C. § 2722(b). Individuals who knowingly violate these provisions are subject to criminal fines, 18 U.S.C. § 2723(a), and private rights of action by the person to whom the personal information pertains. 18 U.S.C. § 2724.

The Act does permit disclosure or use of personal DMV information in several contexts, 18 U.S.C. § 2721(b)(1)-(14), and allows states to establish waiver procedures to handle requests for disclosures that do not fall within these exceptions. 18 U.S.C. § 2721(d). The DPPA allows states to release personal information for any use not included in the Act's list of permissible uses, if the motor vehicle department provides individuals an opportunity to prohibit such disclosure. 18 U.S.C. § 2721(b)(11). Also, departments of motor vehicles are permitted to release personal information for "bulk distribution" for surveys, marketing or solicitations if individuals have an opportunity to prohibit such disclosures. 18 U.S.C. § 2721(b)(12).

According to Defendants, Congress's purpose in enacting the DPPA was two-fold. First, Congress enacted the DPPA as a means of regulating the sale of personal DMV records for use in direct marketing, as numerous states sell or give personal information to data-base compilers, who use it in compiling targeted mailing lists sold or rented to direct marketers and individual companies to target customers nationwide. (Defs.' Mem. in Supp. Mot. to Dis. and in Opp. to Pls.' Mot. for Summ. J. ("Defs.' Mem. in Supp.") at 3-4.) As Defendants note, in considering the Act, Congress heard testimony on the way in which motor vehicle information is used in direct marketing. See 1994 WL 212834, Statement of Mary J. Culnan.

As Defendants assert, Congress also sought to regulate the disclosure and dissemination of personal DMV records in order to protect the privacy and safety of individuals. (Defs.' Mem. in Supp. at 4-5.) For example, as Defendants note, during testimony on the

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DPPA, Congress learned that, nationwide, criminals have used motor vehicle records to locate victims and commit crimes, as private citizens' addresses and phone numbers are easily accessible through such records. (Defs.' Mem. in Supp. at 4-5.)6 During floor debate on the Senate version of the Act, Senators invoked the example of Rebecca Shaeffer, an actress from California, who was murdered by an obsessed fan who obtained her address from the department of motor vehicles through a private investigator. See 139 Cong. Rec. S15766, Comments of Senator Harkin.

Alabama contends that, in enacting the DPPA, Congress has exceeded its authority under the Tenth and Eleventh Amendments. Specifically, the State contends that the DPPA is an unconstitutional federal directive requiring the State of Alabama, through its state executive officers and legislature, to administer a federal program, which infringes on the State's sovereign right to legislate and regulate its citizens, in violation of the Tenth Amendment. The State further contends that the penalties imposed by the Act for noncompliance violate the Eleventh Amendment. Defendants challenge Plaintiffs' standing to bring this suit, and assert that the DPPA passes constitutional muster.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

On a motion for summary judgment, the court is to construe the evidence and factual inferences arising therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970). Summary judgment can be entered on a claim only if it is shown "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). As the Supreme Court has explained the summary judgment standard:

[T]he plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. In such a situation, there can be no genuine issue as to any material fact, since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the non-moving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.

Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The trial court's function at this juncture is not "to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986) (citations omitted). A dispute about a material fact is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; see also Barfield v. Brierton, 883 F.2d 923, 933 (11th Cir.1989).

The party seeking summary judgment has the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for the motion and of establishing, based on relevant "portions of `the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions in the file, together with affidavits, if any,'" that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. Once this initial demonstration under Rule 56(c) is made, the burden of production, not persuasion, shifts to the nonmoving party. The nonmoving party must "go beyond the pleadings and by [his] own affidavits, or by the `depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate `specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

In meeting this burden the nonmoving party "must do more than simply show that there is a metaphysical doubt as to the...

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13 practice notes
  • Condon v. Reno, No. 97-2554
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • September 3, 1998
    ...994 F.Supp. 1358, 1363 (W.D.Okla.1997) (finding the DPPA unconstitutional under New York /Printz line of cases). But see Pryor v. Reno, 998 F.Supp. 1317, 1326-31 (M.D.Ala.1998) (finding that the DPPA does not compel the states to regulate and, therefore, is constitutional under New York and......
  • Travis v. Reno, No. 98-2881
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • December 16, 1998
    ...the Act is valid. Oklahoma v. Reno, 161 F.3d 1266 (10th Cir.1998), reversing 994 F.Supp. 1358 (W.D.Okla.1997). Accord, Pryor v. Reno, 998 F.Supp. 1317 (M.D.Ala.1998). Although each side to this controversy can take comfort from decisions of the Supreme Court, we conclude that, whatever may ......
  • Ex Parte Medical Licensure Com'n of Alabama, 2070245.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • May 9, 2008
    ...while the movant need only show a likelihood of success on the merits in order to obtain a preliminary injunction. Pryor v. Reno, 998 F.Supp. 1317 (M.D.Ala.1998). The purpose of a preliminary injunction is to preserve the status quo until a full trial on the merits can finally determine the......
  • Travis v. Reno, No. 97-C-701-C.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. Western District of Wisconsin
    • June 9, 1998
    ...L.Ed.2d 120 (1992). To date, three district courts have analyzed whether the act runs afoul of the Tenth Amendment. See Pryor v. Reno, 998 F.Supp. 1317 (M.D.Ala. 1998) (held constitutional); Condon v. Reno, 972 F.Supp. 977 (D.S.C.1997) (held unconstitutional); State of Oklahoma ex rel. Okla......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
13 cases
  • Condon v. Reno, No. 97-2554
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • September 3, 1998
    ...994 F.Supp. 1358, 1363 (W.D.Okla.1997) (finding the DPPA unconstitutional under New York /Printz line of cases). But see Pryor v. Reno, 998 F.Supp. 1317, 1326-31 (M.D.Ala.1998) (finding that the DPPA does not compel the states to regulate and, therefore, is constitutional under New York and......
  • Travis v. Reno, No. 98-2881
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • December 16, 1998
    ...the Act is valid. Oklahoma v. Reno, 161 F.3d 1266 (10th Cir.1998), reversing 994 F.Supp. 1358 (W.D.Okla.1997). Accord, Pryor v. Reno, 998 F.Supp. 1317 (M.D.Ala.1998). Although each side to this controversy can take comfort from decisions of the Supreme Court, we conclude that, whatever may ......
  • Ex Parte Medical Licensure Com'n of Alabama, 2070245.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • May 9, 2008
    ...while the movant need only show a likelihood of success on the merits in order to obtain a preliminary injunction. Pryor v. Reno, 998 F.Supp. 1317 (M.D.Ala.1998). The purpose of a preliminary injunction is to preserve the status quo until a full trial on the merits can finally determine the......
  • Travis v. Reno, No. 97-C-701-C.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. Western District of Wisconsin
    • June 9, 1998
    ...L.Ed.2d 120 (1992). To date, three district courts have analyzed whether the act runs afoul of the Tenth Amendment. See Pryor v. Reno, 998 F.Supp. 1317 (M.D.Ala. 1998) (held constitutional); Condon v. Reno, 972 F.Supp. 977 (D.S.C.1997) (held unconstitutional); State of Oklahoma ex rel. Okla......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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