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Minneapolis approves $392,500 settlement with former cop over invasion of privacy

Anne Marie Rasmusson alleges that 140 officers accessed her Department of Motor Vehicles file 554 times between 2005 and 2012 without an official reason.

A former police officer — who accused cops from across the Twin Cities of invasion of privacy when they inappropriately accessed her driver’s license information — will receive $392,500 from Minneapolis.

Anne Marie Rasmusson, a one-time St. Paul and Eden Prairie police officer, has alleged that 140 officers accessed her Department of Motor Vehicles file 554 times between 2005 and 2012 without an official reason.

The DVM file includes photographs, addresses, physical descriptions and her driving record.

The Minneapolis City Council approved the settlement on a voice vote after nearly an hour behind closed doors discussing the matter with the city attorney and members of her staff.  Closed-door meetings to discuss legal matters are allowed under Minnesota’s open meeting laws.

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“We knew there was quite a range of potential risk in this case,” said City Attorney Susan Segal after the vote.  She said the decision to settle was not an admission of liability in the case.

“Anytime we look at settling lawsuits we have to weigh the cost of going forward,” said Segal, who said that figure could include the cost of staff and  police time and the possibility of having to pay attorneys’ fees for the complainant. “This means we have agreed to resolve the case.”

The Minneapolis settlement brings Rasmusson’s total awards to $1,057,500, including $385,000 from St. Paul with another $280,000 from other smaller communities.

Rasmusson’s settlement will be paid by Minneapolis from a reserve fund established for legal settlements.  Segal said that use of that fund has been fairly low this year.

“We don’t roll over easily in cases,” said Segal, adding that two-thirds of the cases brought against the city go to trial where Minneapolis has a winning record.

Council wants Orchestra settlement

A resolution urging the Minnesota Orchestra and its locked-out musicians to get back to the negotiating table was unanimously approved by council members.

“There is absolutely no excuse to not have negotiations now,” said Mayor R.T. Rybak, who asked both sides in the dispute to “get into a room, lock yourselves in and resolve this dispute.”

The resolution mentions the support Minneapolis has given the Minnesota Orchestra in the past, including $14 million in state bonding in 2010 and another $15 million in bonding in 2012.

“To find a solution, everyone needs to come to the table,” said Council Member Betsy Hodges, adding, “I discourage lockouts as a solution.”

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The musicians have been locked out by the Minnesota Orchestra since Oct. 1, an action that has caused the first six weeks of the season to be canceled.

The Orchestra is expected to post a $6 million deficit for the fiscal year that  ended Aug. 31.