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Senne v. Village of Palatine

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

April 28, 2015

JASON SENNE, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff-Appellant,

Argued April 6, 2015

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 10 C 5434 -- Matthew F. Kennelly, Judge.

For JASON SENNE, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff - Appellant: Martin J. Murphy, Attorney, Law Office of Martin J. Murphy, Chicago, IL.

For VILLAGE OF PALATINE, ILLINOIS, a municipal corporation, Defendant - Appellee: Christopher Keleher, Attorney, Keleher Appellate Law Group, Chicago, IL; Robert Christopher Kenny, Patrick Brankin, Attorney, Schain, Burney, Banks & Kenny, Chicago, IL; Michael E. Kujawa, Attorney, Judge, James & Kujawa, LLC, Park Ridge, IL; Brandon K. Lemley, Attorney, Paul A. Rettberg, Attorney, Querrey & Harrow, Chicago, IL; Erin Murphy, Attorney, Paul D. Clement, Attorney, Bancroft Pllc, Washington, DC.

Before POSNER and SYKES, Circuit Judges, and SIMON, Chief District Court Judge.[*]


Page 445

Posner, Circuit Judge.

One evening in 2010 Jason Senne parked his car on the street in front of his house in the Village of Palatine, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. A Village ordinance forbids parking on the street between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. for more than 15 minutes. At 1:35 a.m. a police officer wrote a $20 parking ticket and stuck it face down under the windshield wiper on the driver's side of the car. The officer filled in the ticket with Senne's name, date of birth, sex, height, weight, driver's license number, and address (which turned out to be outdated), plus information about the vehicle (its color, make, model, license plate, and vehicle identification number). We do not understand Senne to be denying that his car had been parked on the street for more than 15 minutes before it was ticketed.

A week later Senne filed this suit, which he sought to be certified as a class action, against the Village. The suit asks for statutory damages for the Village's having, he alleges, violated the Driver's Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. § § 2721 et seq. The Act forbids " a State department of motor vehicles, and any officer, employee, or contractor thereof, ... [to] knowingly disclose or otherwise make available to any person or entity ... personal information ... about any individual obtained by the department in connection with a motor vehicle record, except as provided in subsection (b)." § 2721(a)(1). It further provides that " an authorized recipient of personal information" from the department, such as the municipal police department that ticketed Senne, " may resell or redisclose personal information only for a use permitted under subsection (b)." § 2721(c). Subsection (b), to which both subsections that we've just cited refer, permits " disclosure" of personal information for fourteen permissible uses, including " use in connection with any civil, criminal, administrative, or arbitral proceeding in any Federal, State, or local court or agency or before any self-regulatory body, including the service of process, investigation in anticipation of litigation, and the execution or enforcement of judgments and orders, or pursuant to an order of a Federal, State, or local court," § 2721(b)(4), as well as for " use by any government agency, including any court or law enforcement agency, in carrying out its functions, or any private person or entity acting on behalf of a Federal, State, or local agency in carrying out its functions." § 2721(b)(1). To complete the picture the Act defines " personal information" as " information that identifies an individual, including an individual's photograph, social security number, driver identification number, name, address (but not the 5-digit zip code), telephone number, and medical or disability information." § 2725(3).

Two years later, after a panel of this court had affirmed the dismissal of the suit by the district court on the ground that the disclosure of Senne's personal information on the parking ticket was a permissible use, the court granted rehearing en

Page 446

banc. The en banc court agreed with the panel that placing the parking ticket on the windshield of Senne's car had been a " disclosure" within the meaning of the Act, 695 F.3d 597 (7th Cir. 2012), but remanded for a determination by the district court of " whether all of the disclosed information actually was used in effectuating" one of the permissible purposes that we quoted above, 695 F.3d at 608 (emphasis in the original)--namely, either a use by the Palatine police in performing its duties or a use in connection with the service of process to initiate the administrative proceeding relating to the parking fine. A proceeding to determine whether to impose a parking fine is an administrative proceeding, and placing the parking ticket on the windshield of the alleged violator's vehicle is the usual method of serving process for parking violations.

On remand, following discovery and the filing of cross motions for summary judgment, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Village on the ground that the information disclosed on the parking tickets had furthered both of these purposes. Senne has again appealed.

Palatine's chief of police was deposed in the district court and testified to a number of permissible uses of the personal information that police officers place on parking tickets. One is that such information on a parking ticket increases the likelihood that the ticket will be paid, because the driver or owner knows that the police know his identity and address and will therefore have no difficulty locating him. Another is that a person who receives a parking ticket on a car that he rented or borrowed, rather than owns, learns from the personal information on the ticket who is deemed responsible for paying the ticket--the owner. Knowing this, the ...

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