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Officer Receives $1 Million Settlement in Database Case
Anne Marie Rasmusson, a former police officer, has been awarded $392,000 on top of a $280,000 settlement in a case of invasion of privacy. Rasmusson filed the claims against fellow officers who accessed her driver’s license illegally over 400 times to view it. The ruling was issued by the Minneapolis City Council. St. Paul, Minnesota will also give her $385,000, which brings the total amount to $1,057,000. Taxpayers will be footing the bill.
Rasmusson formerly worked with the St. Paul Police Department and was called ‘Bubbles’ by her colleagues because of her personality. She was notified of the problem when a colleague from the police academy spoke with her in 2009 and said that she looked good. The officer told her that he and his partner used their cruiser’s computer to look at her driver’s license photo.
When Rasmusson expected that the Minnesota driver’s license database was being abused she contacted the Department of Public Safety to ask if they could block access to her driver’s license. When she told the department why, an employee opened an investigation and found that her license was viewed multiple times by officers dating back to 2007. The investigation found that 104 officers in 18 agencies in Minnesota viewed her license a total of 425 times.
Over a span of four years, officers from Bloomington Police, the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office and state troopers viewed her license. In Minneapolis, 24 officers viewed her file 133 times. In St. Paul, 42 officers viewed her file 175 times. Over the span of two years, a female officer from St. Paul looked at her file 30 times.
“There is nothing that I would say about this driver’s license photo or any of my previous ones that in any way would deserve the attention that they’ve gotten,” Rasmusson told City Pages. “I can’t begin to understand what people were thinking.”
The allegations made by Rasmusson have been denied by the city of St. Paul but said that it decided to settle with her in order “to avoid the uncertainties and costs associated with continued litigation of this matter.”
“The city’s liability could have been upwards of $565,000 because the statute provides $2,500 to be assessed per each unlawful look-up of the database, and we had 226 look-ups,” City Attorney Sara Grewing told the Pioneer Press. “So we were looking at $565,000 plus attorney’s fees, if we were found liable.”
Rasmusson’s picture, name, address and other personal information has to be removed from the police department and city’s internal directory and website as part of the settlement.
Photo courtesy of City Pages.