Compliance Management, Privacy

Jury awards Minneapolis officer punitive damages for illegal searches of her DMV records

A federal jury last week awarded a Minneapolis policewoman $585,000 after determining that fellow city employees, including other law enforcement officers, repeatedly accessed her DMV records without any legal justification.

Officer Amy Krekelberg originally filed suit in a Minnesota federal district court in 2013, alleging multiple violations of the Driver's Privacy Protection Act from 2009 through 2013.

The original complaint, filed against not only Minnesota but also other cities and counties within Minneapolis, alleged that multiple municipal employees snooped on records that reportedly included her address, weight, height, and driver's license pictures. In doing so, they "knowingly abused their positions of trust to invade the private life of Krekelberg, without her knowledge or consent, and without ever informing her of their activities," said the filing, adding that the unauthorized searchers were "for personal reasons, for curiosity, for sexual interest, for physical attraction, for animus towards female police officers, and out of jealousy of successful female police officers."

Last Wednesday, the jury reached a verdict in her favor, Wired.com first reported. Of the $585,000 awarded to her, $285,000 is to come out of the city coffers of Minneapolis. Additionally, two fellow officers who were found to have illegally accessed Krekelberg's records – reportedly after their romantic advances were rebuffed – are to each pay $150,000 in damages.

Minneapolis and other municipalities in Minnesota have faced other lawsuits stemming from alleged abuse of license databases, but according to Wired.com, this the first such case in the state to go to trial, while most of the others were dismissed or settled out of court.

Krekelberg reportedly learned of the violations by exercising her right to conduct an audit of any searches for her driver’s license data. She had previously earned a settlement from St. Paul, Minnesota in 2017.

Bradley Barth

As director of community content at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for SC Media online conferences and events, as well as video/multimedia projects. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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