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.