Ex-St. Paul cop slated to get $665K over data breach claims
- Article by: ERIC ROPER
- Star Tribune
- October 16, 2012 - 9:12 PM
A former cop who accused officers across the metro of snooping into her driver's license file is poised to garner about $665,000 in settlements from Twin Cities municipalities.
The payments represent a victory for Anne Rasmusson, a one-time St. Paul and Eden Prairie officer who is pursuing the state's most expansive lawsuit relating to misuse of driver and vehicle services data. She claims cops routinely looked at her DVS file, which includes photographs, addresses, physical descriptions, driving records and other personal information.
The St. Paul City Council will vote Wednesday on whether to grant Rasmusson a $385,000 settlement. Jon Iverson, an attorney representing all other cities in the case except Minneapolis and St. Paul, said they have agreed to settle for $280,000.
Rasmusson recently named more than 140 officers she believes accessed her file without an official purpose, 61 of whom are St. Paul Police Department employees. Her suit also targeted a host of suburban cities, from Burnsville to Eagan, though those claims were dismissed Monday. Remaining defendants include Minneapolis and the state's current and former public safety commissioners.
In the proposed settlement, St. Paul does not admit any wrongdoing but agrees to remove Rasmusson's name, picture, address and any other personal information from the city and police department's internal directory, intranet and website.
St. Paul City Attorney Sara Grewing said statutes call for minimum damages of $2,500 per unauthorized lookup. With a total of 228 St. Paul lookups alleged in the suit, the city could have been on the hook for at least $570,000 plus attorneys' fees.
"There were some challenges to this particular statute that put the city at a lot of risk," Grewing said.
One of Rasmusson's lawyers, Jon Strauss, said he could not comment on the case until the council votes Wednesday.
St. Paul City Council President Kathy Lantry participated in closed-door settlement discussions. She said she expects the council to approve the conditional agreement.
"Settlements are always very difficult," she said. "It's weighing a lot of different sides of the issue."
Rasmusson's legal team is also scheduled to have a settlement conference with the city of Minneapolis Oct. 25.
Records held by the Department of Public Safety show that about 160 individuals, almost all government employees, have misused DVS data in the past two years. The database has about 21,500 active users. Some of those caught snooping have lost their jobs, others have been reprimanded and some have merely lost their database access.
Staff writer Rochelle Olson contributed to this report. Eric Roper • 612-673-1732 Twitter: @StribRoper
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