This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Ricky Lee McDeid,
Minnesota Department of Human Services, et al.,
Filed December 11, 2007
Ramsey County District Court
File No. C2-06-837
Ricky L. McDeid, 1111 Highway 73, Moose Lake, MN 55767 (pro se appellant)
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Barry R. Greller, Assistant Attorney General, 900 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2127 (for respondents)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge; Dietzen, Judge; and Ross, Judge.
The district court dismissed Ricky McDeid’s claims for recovery under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act and an administrative rule governing record keeping at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program. Because McDeid’s allegations do not state a legally sufficient claim for relief under either the data practices act or the administrative rule governing sex-offender record keeping, we affirm.
F A C T S
In March 2005 two patients escaped from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) in Saint Peter. After the escape, another patient handed a security guard a letter describing the escape and implicating a third patient as an accomplice. The security guard reported that the letter was written by and given to the guard by Ricky McDeid, an MSOP patient in Saint Peter.
The escapees were captured and then prosecuted. Before trial, the prosecutor released the letter to the defense and identified McDeid as the author. The escapees distributed a copy of the letter to other MSOP patients. As a result, McDeid has been labeled a “prison snitch” and has been harassed.
McDeid filed a pro se complaint alleging that the Minnesota Department of Human Services and MSOP were not authorized to release his name and the letter. He claimed that he is entitled to recover under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, and a state administrative rule governing record keeping at MSOP. The district court dismissed McDeid’s claims for failure to state a claim. McDeid now appeals the district court’s dismissal of the data-practices-act claim and the administrative-rule claim.
D E C I S I O N
We review de novo the district court’s decision to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim. Mahoney & Hagberg v. Newgard, 729 N.W.2d 302, 306 (Minn. 2007). We accept all facts alleged in the complaint as true, and we make all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Bodah v. Lakeville Motor Express, Inc., 663 N.W.2d 550, 553 (Minn. 2003). Dismissal is proper if the claim is legally insufficient. Barton v. Moore, 558 N.W.2d 746, 749 (Minn. 1997). The complaint should be dismissed “only if it appears to a certainty that no facts, which could be introduced consistent with the pleading, exist which would support granting the relief demanded.” N. States Power Co. v. Franklin, 265 Minn. 391, 395, 122 N.W.2d 26, 29 (1963).
Under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, information collected by the state welfare system is classified as private data. Minn. Stat. § 13.46, subd. 2(a) (2006). An individual may sue the state for the unauthorized release of private data. Minn. Stat. § 13.08, subd. 1 (2006).
McDeid’s suit is based on the release of his name and the letter describing the escape. For purposes of this opinion, we assume without deciding that this data was welfare data under Minn. Stat. § 13.46 (2006) and is therefore classified as private data under the act.
Nonetheless, welfare data can be disclosed “to an agent of the welfare system, including a law enforcement person, attorney, or investigator acting for it in the investigation or prosecution of a criminal or civil proceeding relating to the administration of a program.” Id., subd. 2(4). McDeid’s information was disclosed for the purpose of prosecuting the escapees. Escape from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) relates to the administration of the program. Thus, the data could be disclosed to the prosecuting attorney and investigators.
The real question in this case is whether the prosecuting attorney was authorized to release McDeid’s information to the defendants in the criminal prosecution. The answer is provided by a different provision of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. Under Minn. Stat. § 13.393 (2006), attorneys acting for the state are exempted from the act’s requirements. The statute provides that “an attorney acting in a professional capacity for the state, a state agency or a political subdivision shall be governed by statutes, rules, and professional standards concerning discovery, production of documents, introduction of evidence, and professional responsibility.” Id.
Accordingly, the prosecuting attorney was authorized to release McDeid’s data if the rules of criminal procedure permitted the release. Under Minn. R. Crim. P. 9.01, subd. 1(2), the prosecutor must disclose any relevant written statements. Therefore, the prosecutor was required to release McDeid’s letter. Furthermore, under Minn. R. Crim. P. 9.01, subd. 1(1)(c), the prosecutor must disclose the names and addresses of persons having information relating to the case. We recognize that, for cause, the district court may issue a protective order limiting the disclosure to defense counsel. Minn. R. Crim. P. 9.03, subd. 5. The prosecutor did not seek a protective order in this case, but the failure to do so would not constitute a violation of discovery rules. See Minn. R. Crim. P. 9.03, subd. 5 (permitting protective orders but not requiring that they be sought in any particular circumstances). Therefore, under section 13.393, the prosecutor could identify McDeid as the author of the letter and was authorized to release McDeid’s information to the defense.
Because the state was authorized to release McDeid’s data, the complaint fails to set forth a legally sufficient claim for relief. No facts introduced could permit the district court to grant relief. Therefore, the district court correctly dismissed McDeid’s claim for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
The district court also dismissed McDeid’s claim that he is entitled to recover under Minn. R. 9515.3110 (2005). This rule provides that the MSOP shall not release “information in a person’s record” without written consent. Id., subp. 4. We conclude that the district court correctly determined that McDeid’s claim is legally insufficient.
The district court correctly observed that Minn. R. 9515.3110 relates to documentation for the course of evaluation and treatment of a person placed in the MSOP and does not relate to the type of information that McDeid claims was improperly released. But even if McDeid could establish a violation, the rule does not provide McDeid with any right to recover because it does not proscribe a remedy for violations. D.A.B. v. Brown, 570 N.W.2d 168, 170 (Minn. App. 1997) (statute precluding physicians from accepting compensation for referral of patients does not provide private remedy, even if physician could be subject to discipline or criminal sanctions). The administrative rule does not provide any right to relief for violations.
For the first time, on appeal, McDeid also argues that he has a right to recover under Minn. Stat. § 246.72 (2006). But this provision only relates to patients who may be carriers of bloodborne pathogens. Thus, the statute does not provide McDeid with any right to recover. Accordingly, the district court correctly concluded that McDeid failed to state a legally sufficient claim for relief.