A Chicago federal judge has cleared the way for a man to
continue his lawsuit against a Chicago lawyer he has accused of buying traffic
crash reports to improperly obtain his personal information to then offer to
represent him in any legal actions involving his auto accident.
On March 31, U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly ruled
plaintiff Antonio Pavone has standing under federal law to sue the Law Offices
of Anthony Mancini for allegedly violating the federal Driver’s Privacy
“In this case … Pavone never gave his information to
Mancini, and he did not consent to its disclosure to Mancini,” Kennelly wrote. “He
is suing Mancini for obtaining his information, not for retaining it. Obtaining
personal information from motor vehicle records without authority is part of
what the DPPA specifically prohibits.”
The ruling comes as the latest step in multi-pronged legal
actions Pavone launched in 2015 against law firms he said wrongly solicited him
after obtaining his personal information from the record of a car crash he had
suffered in suburban Schaumburg in January 2015.
At the time of the crash, police responding to the crash had
entered Pavone’s personal information on an official crash report and had
entered the report into an online database maintained by a company identified
as iyeTek LLC, a subsidiary of LexisNexis, an online information provider.
LexisNexis makes such reports available for sale to lawyers seeking clients to
represent for personal injury lawsuits.
Pavone has alleged that is how is information was obtained
by Mancini and lawyers with the firm of Meyerkord & Meyerkord, of St. Louis.
Both legal practices then purportedly sent him letters, asking to represent
Pavone and his family in any lawsuits they may file concerning the crash.
Mancini’s letter, at least, included a copy of the crash
report that contained the Pavones’ personal information, according to Pavone’s
Pavone has also separately sued the Meyerkord firm and iyeTek
and LexisNexis. That case is pending, also in Chicago federal court.
In September 2016, Judge Kennelly refused Mancini’s request
to toss the suit, placing little weight on Mancini’s claims the First Amendment
of the U.S. Constitution superseded the protections offered by the federal DPPA
At that time, however, Kennelly had left the door open for
Mancini to challenge Pavone’s standing to bring the lawsuit, alleging Pavone
could not demonstrate Mancini had actually harmed him, in light of last year’s
U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Spokeo
In that case, the high court had ruled online consumer
reporting agency Spokeo’s publication of personal information doesn’t violate
federal privacy rights, unless claimants could demonstrate a “concrete” injury.
It is not enough, the Supreme Court said, to simply allege a technical
violation of the law.
In Pavone’s case, however, Kennelly said he believed the
plaintiff had demonstrated such a concrete harm from Mancini’s use of the
Pavones’ information on the traffic crash reports.
Kennelly noted Pavone provided his information to the police
under obligation of law, but never voluntarily disclosed it to Mancini.
And the judge brushed aside contentions that Pavone’s information
was already public, saying “Mancini’s possession and use of it” could still “cause
“The dollar value of this may be small, but it is a concrete
injury nonetheless,” the judge said.
Pavone is represented by
Zamparo Law Group, of suburban Hoffman Estates, and Francis & Mailman, of
Philadelphia. Mancini is defended by Chicago lawyer George E. Becker.