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Biometric data privacy settlement could tempt more defendants into federal courts

Biometric data privacy settlement could tempt more defendants into federal courts

A new and comparatively small BIPA payout was announced last week involving the multinational food and support firm Compass Group and 365 Retail Markets, maker of unattended retail stores.

The United States unit of Compass settled a state of Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act class action for $6.8 million, or about $413 per class member. Attorneys will claim roughly $2.2 million.

In contrast, biometric employee time-keeper Kronos in 2020 agreed to a BIPA settlement of $15 million in state court.

Lead plaintiff Christine Bryant alleged in 2019 that employees in an Illinois Compass call center wanting to use vending machines on site could only do so with their fingerprint biometrics. As with many other cases, the company reportedly did not get informed consent and did not tell employees how the data would be managed.

A proposed settlement was announced last fall.

According to trade publication Law360, Bryant was in charge of the class action. She allegedly defeated a dismissal motion, worked an appeal and handled initial discovery. Law360 quotes Bryant saying Compass had a strong case, but that the settlement offers substantial value relative to the strength of plaintiff’s claim.

There could be a legacy of this case.

Analysis by the National Law Review earlier in the proceeding points to the fact that Compass appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, where its lawyers counter-intuitively argued that Bryant has “sufficiently alleged an injury-in-fact,” making it appropriate for the Seventh Circuit.

That was a good move, according to the analysis, as federal courts have tougher class certification standards and “some other employer-friendly BIPA decisions.”

Bryant v. Compass Group USA, case number 1:19-cv-06622, was heard in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

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