SW Legal studies in Business

Release of Motor Vehicle Information for Legitimate Purposes Not Actionable

Court dismissed suit against a publisher of law materials for obtaining and selling motor vehicle records. Such records may be obtained and used for legitimate purposes, such as legal research, so there was no basis for suit against the publisher.

Topic Torts
Key Words

Privacy; Personal Information; Motor Vehicle Records; Standing

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

West Publishing, a leading publisher of law materials, was sued by Young and Barrett for violation of the Florida Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). They contend that West obtained motor vehicle records and corresponding “personal information” of millions of licensed drivers from the department of motor vehicles, which it made available for sale on the Internet. West moved to dismiss, contending that plaintiffs did not have standing because they had suffered no injury and, further, that the DPPA allows such information to be released for permissible uses, such as legal research.


Motion Dismissed. The DPPA does not require an entity that receives motor vehicle information to obtain independent permission for use of the information. A user of DPPA information may sell or disclose the information for purposes spelled out in the law. The information is properly disclosed if used for proper purposes, such as legal research, as the statute specifically states. Hence, while the department of motor vehicles may not release the information to anyone for any use, it may release the information for resale or disclosure for legitimate government and business needs. Plaintiffs do not have standing to sue because they can show no injury that they have suffered. They cannot show that their motor vehicle information was used by West for any impermissible purpose.

Citation Young v. West Publishing Corp., ---S.Supp.2d--- (2010 WL 2867699, S.D., Fla., 2010)

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