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Wilcox v. Bastiste

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

June 9, 2017

JADE WILCOX, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
JOHN BASTISTE and JOHN DOES 1-300, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

          ROSANNA MALOUF PETERSON United States District Judge.

         BEFORE THE COURT is Plaintiff's Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction, ECF No. 3. On May 25, 2017, the Court heard oral argument on the motion. James R. Sweetser and Thomas G. Jarrard appeared on behalf of Plaintiffs, and Assistant Attorney General Shelley A. Williams appeared on behalf of Defendants. The Court has considered the motion and the record and is fully informed.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs filed this suit pursuant to the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (“DPPA”), 18 U.S.C. § 2721-2725, which “regulates the disclosure of personal information contained in the records of state motor vehicle departments (DMVs).” Reno v. Condon, 528 U.S. 141, 143 (2000). In relevant part, 18 U.S.C. § 2721 provides:

A State department of motor vehicles, and any officer, employee, or contractor thereof, shall not knowingly disclose or otherwise make available to any person or entity:
. . . personal information, as defined in 18 U.S.C. 2725(3), about any individual obtained by the department in connection with a motor vehicle record, except as provided in subsection (b) of this section . . . .

         The DPPA restricts those who work on behalf of the DMV and protects the information obtained from DMV records, as it makes it “unlawful for any person knowingly to obtain or disclose personal information, from a motor vehicle record, for any use not permitted under section 2721(b) of this title.” 18 U.S.C. § 2722.

         The statute then lists fourteen “permissible purposes” for which the protected information may be disclosed. See 18 U.S.C. § 2721(b).

         Following automobile accidents in Washington state, the Washington State Patrol (“WSP”) prepares collision reports containing personal information of the sort protected by the DPPA. It was represented at oral argument that the personal information is obtained from DMV records and uploads into a software program that the WSP troopers use to compose the collision reports. Currently, the WSP sells those collision reports to any third party without redacting various types of personal information. Plaintiffs seek a TRO and preliminary injunction:

(1) enjoining Defendants from disclosing DPPA-protected “personal information” of Plaintiffs and the [putative] Class to others without a permissible purpose and/or (2) ordering redaction of the name, address, driver license number, date of birth, sex, height, and weight of the registered owner from all traffic collision reports it discloses, unless and until a lawful or permissible purpose is identified.

         ECF No. 3.

         DISCUSSION

         “The standard for issuing a temporary restraining order is the same as that for the issuance of [a] preliminary injunction.” Dahlstrom v. Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe of Washington, No. C16-0052JLR, 2017 WL 413201, at *2 (W.D. Wash. Jan. 31, 2017) (citing New Motor Vehicle Bd. of Cal. v. Orrin W. Fox Co., 434 U.S. 1345, 1347 n.2 (1977)). A preliminary injunction is “an extraordinary and drastic remedy, one that should not be granted unless the movant, by a clear showing, carries the burden of persuasion.” Lopez v. Brewer, 680 F.3d 1068, 1072 (9th Cir. 2012) (emphasis in original) (quoting Mazurek v. Armstrong, 520 U.S. 968, 972 (1997) (per curiam)). Ordinarily, to obtain a preliminary injunction, the moving party must “demonstrate that (1) he is likely to succeed on the merits of such a claim; (2) he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; (3) the balance of equities tips in his favor; and (4) that an injunction is in the public interest.” Lopez, 680 F.3d at 1072 (citing Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008)).

         In conjunction with the four-part post-Winter test, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has stated that “serious questions going to the merits and a balance of hardships that tips sharply towards the plaintiff can support issuance of a preliminary injunction, so long as the plaintiff also shows that there is a likelihood of irreparable injury and that the injunction is in the public interest.” League of Wilderness Defs./Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project v. ...


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