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Woman sues Washington State Patrol chief over public sale of accident reports

A Spokane woman has filed a lawsuit against the Washington State Patrol Chief John Bastiste, alleging that the department’s practice of selling unredacted accident reports is a violation of the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act.

The act forbids the release of personal information contained in motor vehicle records without consent. The WSP reports are automatically filled in electronically with information from motor vehicle records.

Jade Wilcox was in a car accident on July 9, 2016. Only five days later she received a letter from the law office of Craig Swapp in an attempt to solicit her business, according to the lawsuit filed by Spokane attorney Jim Sweetser.

“This is a common and routine sale of DPPA-protected personal information,” the lawsuit states. Attorneys, chiropractors and others obtain WSP collision reports for solicitation and their own personal profit, it said.

Swapp buys hundreds of accident reports in bulk every month and uses them to contact people offering his services, the lawsuit states. Wilcox’s report was one of the reports his company purchased.

The lawsuit filed in federal court, which Sweetser hopes will become a class action, seeks $2,500 per violation of the DPPA plus punitive damages. The suit also seeks an immediate injunction barring the public sale of accident reports by the WSP.