Rod Max Guides Parties to Class Action Settlement Safeguarding Motor Vehicle Records Personal Information


Friday, June 22, 2007

Miami , Florida - A group of information service providers and plaintiffs have received preliminary court approval of a class action settlement that will provide consumers enhanced safeguards that will help ensure information obtained from motor vehicle records is not used for marketing purposes. The settlement will resolve a class action lawsuit filed in 2003, Fresco, et al. v. Automotive Directions, Inc., et al., which alleged violations of the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). This agreement, approved by United States District Court Judge Jose E. Martinez, was reached under the guidance of a court appointed mediator, Rodney A. Max, who shuttled among the parties in an exercise that took over 12 months.


The agreement requires the companies to adopt a "Protecting Drivers' Data" program, where each company will :

  • conduct a confidential internal assessment to evaluate its compliance with the DPPA and address any material deficiencies ;
  • establish a DPPA compliance program and designate a compliance director to oversee the program ;
  • insert language into customer contracts requiring customers to maintain the confidentiality of DPPA-regulated information, identify the way in which the information is to be used, and use the information only for permissible purposes, and to permit the company to terminate the customer's access if necessary ;
  • educate all employees whose jobs relate to DPPA-regulated information; and
  • engage an independent third party to assess each company's DPPA compliance program and confirm its implementation .

Tom Loffredo, a spokesperson for the companies, issued the following statement in connection with the  settlement :

"This agreement provides millions of drivers with enhanced safeguards to help ensure that their personal information obtained from DMV records will not be used for marketing purposes."

"All sides recognized that federal law strikes an important balance between protecting the rights of individuals while at the same time allowing DMV information to be used for important purposes. Information obtained from DMVs can help to locate missing persons, facilitate auto safety recalls, assist civil and criminal investigators, aid researchers and statisticians, and assist in fraud detection and prevention."

"Today's agreement provides an additional level of consumer protection by requiring an independent third party's review of the companies' DPPA compliance programs and seven years of oversight by a federal judge."

"Everyone agrees that no one should have their driver's information used for marketing purposes without their consent."

Tod Aronovitz and John Yanchunis issued the following statement on behalf of the plaintiffs :

"This agreement creates tough new rules to put in place a set of best practices at some of the largest information service providers in order to make sure personal details from DMV data collected on millions of Americans are not used for marketing purposes. We feel this agreement accomplishes our goal of protecting consumers' rights."

"Under the agreement, consumers who can show they were actually harmed from any impermissible use or disclosure of DMV information will still have the right to bring their own individual lawsuits for actual damages."

"We are hopeful the court will preliminarily approve this agreement which requires these companies to go above and beyond what the law requires."


Rod Max stated the following on behalf of the mediation process :

"This was a classic mediation involving great lawyers and their clients, all of whom committed themselves to making a difference in the area of consumer privacy."


More Background

Three years ago, several individuals filed a suit asserting that the companies violated a federal law known as the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). The law prohibits knowingly obtaining, using or disclosing personal information obtained from DMVs for purposes not permitted under the Act.


The class action complaint, which was filed on behalf of all Floridians with information held by Florida' s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, claimed that the companies resold information obtained from the Department for marketing purposes without the individuals' express consent, and that as a result, plaintiffs received unwanted mail. The complaint does not allege that anyone's personal information was stolen or that anyone's identity was compromised .


Under the agreement, the defendants deny that their practices for obtaining, using or disclosing DPPA-regulated information were insufficient or impermissible under the law .


The proposed agreement seeks to expand the statewide class into a nationwide class. The proposed class includes all persons whose DPPA-regulated information was obtained, used or disclosed by any of the settling defendants from April 1, 1998 through the final approval of the settlement .


Upon approval of the settlement, all class members will waive any claim for statutory liquidated damages under the DPPA, but will reserve the right to later file individual lawsuits if they suffered any actual damages .

The settling defendants include Automotive Directions, Inc.; Experian Information Solutions, Inc.; ChoicePoint Public Records Inc.; ChoicePoint Inc.; ChoicePoint Precision Marketing Inc.; ChoicePoint Services Inc.; KnowX LLC; Seisint, Inc.; Reed Elsevier Inc.; and eFunds Corporation.

copyright 2006 DPPA

Bookmark & Share