Lawsuit alleging illegal information access by local government bodies can proceed
A lawsuit alleging improper access to Department of Public Safety (DPS) driver’s license information of Baxter lawyer has been given the go-ahead by federal judges to proceed to the next step.
Brook Mallak, Baxter lawyer and community volunteer, in August brought forward the complaint, which said personnel from about 20 agencies, counties and cities viewed her private DPS information about 189 times between 2003-2012.
The court decision marks the first time a suit of its kind hasn’t been dismissed by local federal judges, said Mallak’s attorney, Kenn Fukuda from the Sapientia Law Group in Minneapolis.
“It’s definitely exciting that we have the judge acknowledge the facts in her case lead to at least a lawsuit,” he said. “So we’re just pleased that we can now move on and get to bottom of why her information was obtained so many times.”
According to the initial complaint, personnel from about 20 agencies, counties and cities viewed Mallak’s private information about 189 times between 2003-2012.
Local cities and counties included in the complaint are: The city of Brainerd, the city of Baxter, Aitkin County, Cass County, Crow Wing County, the city of Little Falls, Morrison County and the city of Staples. Several other people and government bodies are included in the lawsuit, most located in the Twin Cities area.
The court dismissed several individual lookups that happened before Aug. 5, 2009 because of a four-year statute of limitations, which, according to the court, starts when the records were accessed.
That included some (but not all) lookups from Baxter, Brainerd, Little Falls, Staples, and Aitkin, Cass and Crow Wing counties.
It also included each of the two lookups by the city of Crosslake and the one by the city of Pine River. Therefore, the claims against those two cities were completely dismissed.
Fukuda says he’ll appeal three orders for dismissal.
In the mean time, he’ll continue with researching who looked up Mallak’s private information and why. That could take several months. It may or may not lead to a trial. It’s too early to tell, he said.
Mallak is asking for $500,000 in damages.