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Illinois Supreme Court to hear oral arguments in key biometric data privacy suit

Illinois Supreme Court to hear oral arguments in key biometric data privacy suit

Illinois’ Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in a case which could set the precedent for whether technical violations of the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) are sufficient to establish standing without concrete injury, affecting numerous other suits filed under the regulation, Law360 reports.

In Stacy Rosenbach v. Six Flags Entertainment Corp., a trial court and appellate court have come down on opposite sides of the question, and a previous appellate court ruling in Klaudia Sekura v. Krishna Schaumburg Tan Inc. reversed a trial court decision that procedural violations are not sufficient to make affected parties “aggrieved”.

Several interest groups have filed amicus briefs urging the court to reverse the appellate court decision and reinstate the case, while the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and other interest groups have sided with Six Flags, saying that reversing the lower court’s decision would result in a flood of lawsuits seeking millions of billions in damages by plaintiffs who have not suffered tangible injury, according to Law360.

Attorney James Fieweger of Michael Best & Friedrich LLP cautioned that while important, the case is an early step in the process.

Ryan Andrews of Edelson PC, which represented Sekura, said that the decision has the potential to be a significant, but could be limited by the scope of the two questions certified for appeal. It is still important, however, he says, because it could block companies that have violated the law from avoiding statutory liability by changing the standard.

“These defendants that want to be able to collect this information without telling anybody that they’re doing it are addressing their arguments to the wrong governmental body,” Andrews told Law360. “Companies like Facebook and Google have tried to get the language amended twice. I think that’s their recognition that the statute doesn’t say that in the first place.”

Reena Bajowala of Ice Miller LLP questioned whether BIPA is protecting consumers the way it is supposed to, and noted that relief obtained by plaintiff’s, often in settlement, tends to be additional disclosure or a nominal recovery.

Law360 reports that many BIPA lawsuits have been put on hold while the State Supreme Court hears Rosenbach v. Six Flags, and reported recently that the fate of approximately 100 class action suits could be affected by the decision.

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