Ex-MN Police Officer Agrees to $665K Over Privacy Claims

Updated: 10/17/2012 1:47 PM KSTP.com By: Leslie Dyste

A former police officer who accused other law enforcement of illegally accessing her driver's license information to see her photo has reached tentative settlements with St. Paul and other cities worth $665,000.

Anne Marie Rasmusson, 38, alleged that 144 law enforcement officers "accessed, used or disclosed her private information approximately 554 times" between 2005 and 2012 "without any legitimate business reason to do so," according to the court records. She had named St. Paul, Minneapolis and 16 other area cities, among others, in a lawsuit.

A proposed settlement with St. Paul would give her $385,000. The city council was set to vote on it Wednesday.

There's also a $280,000 settlement reached during an Oct. 1 court ordered mediation session with the 16 cities. It will be paid by their insurer and also would cover current and potentially future individual officers or other departments involved, according to the city's attorney Jon Iverson.

Rasmusson's legal team is scheduled to have an additional settlement conference with the city of Minneapolis Oct. 25. They were unable to come to an agreement Oct. 1, Iverson said.

Rasmusson had lost 100 pounds while working in Eden Prairie, but had to retire in 2003 because of a back injury.

Rasmusson began to think law enforcement officers were taking an uncomfortable interest in her around 2007, the suit said.

She had recently divorced and became suspicious as to why and how some officers knew her address or the car she drove. So she checked with the state agency that tracks database inquiries.

One person who accessed the information was Eden Prairie Sgt. Carter Staaf, the suit says. He looked up Rasmusson's current driver's license along with her old ones to compare the photographs, the suit says.

Staaf encouraged his subordinates to conduct their own queries of Rasmusson's information because the lawsuit contends "she was very attractive and so they could see that 'she's changed and she's got a new look.'"

In the proposed settlement, St. Paul does not admit any wrongdoing but agrees to remove Rasmusson's name, picture, address and any other personal information from the city and police department's internal directory, intranet and website.

St. Paul City Attorney Sara Grewing said statutes call for minimum damages of $2,500 per unauthorized check. With a total of 228 St. Paul lookups alleged in the suit, the city could have been liable for at least $570,000 plus attorneys' fees.

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