STUART, Fla. - Two lawsuits, both filed by former law enforcement officers, have the same claim: the plaintiffs allege law enforcement personnel illegally accessed private information through the Driver and Vehicle Information Database, or the D.A.V.I.D. system, without an official purpose.
A former Florida Highway Patrol trooper, Donna Jane Watts, pulled over an off-duty Miami police officer in 2011. Her lawsuit, filed in federal court on December 21, 2012, claims that after the incident, her private information, such as her home address, photo and Social Security number, was accessed more than 200 times. She claims this invasion of her constitutionally-protected right to privacy caused her to fear for her safety.
At the Martin County Sheriff's Office, the four officers named in Watts' lawsuit were "verbally counseled" for allegedly accessing Watts' information.
At the Port St. Lucie Police Department, the three officers named in the suit received a Supervisor's Conference Form, which is a documented warning.
At the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, one officer, who was named in both lawsuits, served a one-day suspension without pay.
In a lawsuit filed on December 31, 2012, married couple Toni and Shaun Foudy allege they and their immediate family members' information was illegally searched by St. Lucie County and Indian River County Sheriff's Office employees more than 700 times between 2005 and 2011.
Toni Foudy resigned from the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office after thirteen months working as a deputy, and then was fired from the Indian River County Sheriff's Office after she allegedly created multiple discipline problems, according to internal affairs records.
After her firing, Toni Foudy claims she was repeatedly harassed by law enforcement, and the couple felt compelled to move twice.
Florida state statutes entitle anyone to be informed of a breach to their private information.
The lawsuit claims the Foudys only knew of the unlawful access once they requested audits from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and that the St. Lucie County and Indian River County Sheriff's Office internal investigations did not reflect the number of queries that DHSMV reflected on its audits.
79 St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office law enforcement personnel and 22 Indian River County Sheriff's Office personnel are listed as unlawfully accessing the Foudy's information.
According to the lawsuits, the first access page to the D.A.V.I.D. system warns anyone who logs in that their activity will be fully monitored to protect against improper use.
If the lawsuits' allegations are true, the officers in question violated the Drivers Privacy Protection Act.
Both suits seek more than $1 million dollars in damages for the plaintiffs.
An attempt to reach the sheriff's offices named, seeking a response and information about the policies that protect against the misuse of communications facilities, was unsuccessful.
This story will be updated with more information as it becomes available.