February 18, 2019

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Car Dealer’s Attempt to Crash Data Privacy Class Action Sputters Out

A Texas court recently affirmed the vitality of potential nationwide class actions brought under the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (“DPPA”), in a case brought by an individual whose personal information had allegedly been obtained illegally from the Texas DMV database. The case was filed by a local individual, Arthur Lopez, who complained of getting direct mail from Don Herring Ltd., a local Texas car dealer. Lopez claims that Herring’s personalized advertisement violated the DPPA. Here, the advertisement contained Lopez’s full name, address and the make model of his car. Lopez, however, alleged he had never heard of Herring and had no idea how Herring obtained his personal information without his consent.

According to the complaint, Herring allegedly obtained Lopez’s personal information from the Texas DMV. Herring denies this, however. The DPPA prohibits the procurement of personal information from a state motor vehicle record for advertising purposes, and empowers plaintiffs to file class actions and seek monetary damages against violators of the Act. The court ultimately held that plaintiff had alleged enough facts to render his DPPA claim plausible, and denied the car dealer’s motion to dismiss, which means the case will likely proceed to the class certification stage.

Putting it Into Practice: This case is a reminder that companies should look at the origins of data they obtain for marketing and advertising purposes.

Copyright © 2019, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.


About this Author

David M. Poell, business law Lawyer, Sheppard Mullin

David Poell is an associate in the Business Trial Practice Group in the firm’s Chicago office with an emphasis in the areas of consumer privacy and class action litigation.

Areas of Practice

A large portion of Mr. Poell’s practice is devoted to defending companies against class and individual actions brought under various state and federal consumer protection statutes, including the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), as well as other consumer-privacy and unfair business practices laws and...