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Court Says Parking Tickets Could Be Illegal

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By Robyn Hagan Cain on August 10, 2012 1:09 PM

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that an Illinois driver can sue the Village of Palatine for giving him a parking ticket.

Before you get too excited by the prospect of unfettered parking, keep in mind that the decision doesn’t mean that driver will win.

Jason Senne's vehicle was illegally parked overnight on a public way in the Village of Palatine. Village authorities placed a parking citation on his windshield. Various pieces of personal information from a DMV database were printed on the citation.

Senne sued Palatine, claiming that the Village's practice of printing personal information on parking tickets violated the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA).

The DPPA was created to safeguard the personal information of licensed drivers from improper use or disclosure, according to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). Congress pass the DPPA in response to a number of cases involving stalkers who obtained information from different states' DMVs to stalk, harass, or burglarize drivers. In the most prominent case in the 80s, a stalker used personal information from the California DMV to track and kill My Sister Sam actress Rebecca Schaeffer.

The DPPA requires all states to protect a driver's name, address, phone number, Social Security number, driver identification number, photograph, height, weight, gender, age, and certain medical or disability information.

While the district court granted the Village's 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss Senne's claim, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, revived the case this week.

Judge Kenneth Ripple, writing for the majority, noted, "We now conclude that the parking ticket at issue here did constitute a disclosure regulated by the DPPA, and we further agree with Mr. Senne that, at this stage of the litigation, the facts as alleged are sufficient to state a claim that the disclosure on his parking ticket exceeded that permitted by the statute

The decision could create as much as $80 million in liability for the Village of Palatine, the ABA Journal reports. With that kind of money at stake, you can bet that the Village will ask the Supreme Court to review this opinion.

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