The city of Minneapolis will pay $193,500 to settle a lawsuit filed by Alix Kendall, a TV anchor whose personal driver’s license information was repeatedly looked up by Minneapolis police officers for no good reason.
Kendall’s was one of the few remaining cases in a yearslong saga involving over-curious cops who clicked into the state’s Driver and Vehicle Services database to look at photographs, addresses and driving records of dozens of Minnesotans, many of them local celebrities.
Kendall sued 169 cities and counties after learning her private information had been accessed 3,844 times over nine years. She is co-host of the morning show on Fox 9, and several hundred of the lookups occurred while she was on the air — not driving or communicating with law enforcement.
Her case and many others were dismissed in federal court, but she appealed to the Eighth Circuit. While her data had been accessed 560 times by Minneapolis police, the appeals court winnowed down the number of instances on which she could proceed with a lawsuit based on the statute of limitations and what the court considered the “plausibility” that her privacy was being violated.
In general, late-night lookups were considered a violation by the court, said Kendall’s attorney, Sonia Miller-Van Oort of Sapientia Law Group.
So Kendall sued Minneapolis over 48 lookups of her information.
“In view of the number of accesses the Eighth Circuit allowed Ms. Kendall to go forward with, this was a good settlement,” Miller-Van Oort said.
The Minneapolis City Council voted Friday to pay Kendall $150,000 plus $43,500 in attorney’s fees.
The city of St. Paul settled a similar lawsuit with Kendall in January, agreeing to pay her $33,000.
Miller-Van Oort said of the roughly 30 DVS snooping cases her firm took on, only three remain — two in front of the court of appeals and one in federal district court.
“We’re definitely at the end of it,” Miller-Van Oort said. “Ms. Kendall, along with the other women who brought these suits, brought the suits because of their genuine concern about personal privacy and concern about abuse of power and abuse of discretion by law enforcement. A strong incentive for bringing these cases was to make people aware of what was happening and to get it to stop.”