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US privacy law catches insurer and Amazon; settlement nears in another case

US privacy law catches insurer and Amazon; settlement nears in another case

The biometric privacy protection law in the U.S. state of Illinois continues to churn though challenges.

A United States district court judge, hearing a business insurance case (1:21-CV-00788) arising from the Biometric Information Protection Act, has denied in part dueling motions for summary judgment. The case is Thermoflex Waukegan vs. Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance USA.

The decision means Mitsui might have to defend Thermoflex, but not today.

Thermoflex faces a putative class action brought by employees who were required to have their palms scanned to clock in and out. The company allegedly did not get express consent, nor did it tell workers how the data would be managed, all of which is necessary under BIPA.

Mitsui has done what insurance companies do – found policy exclusions that protect it from having to spend money defending the policy owner. Lawyers for Thermoflex have tried to find language in the company’s policies that force it to act.

In a memo, the presiding judge writes at lengthy about exclusions and, of course, precedent, and seems to be building to a complete vindication of Mitsui, but ultimately gives Thermoflex, a bittersweet glimmer of hope that Mitsui will have to assist.

Mitsui must defend the plaintiff under an umbrella policy paid for by Thermoflex, but as per that policy, Mitsui is on the hook only after the plaintiff exhaust its primary insurance limits.

Another BIPA complaint involves both a client of Amazon’s Web Services and Web Services itself.

A former supermarket employee initially accused Turing Video in federal court of violating the law with its product, Shield, Law360 reports. But the same plaintiff has also filed a proposed class action in state court against Web Services, which sold cloud services to Turing.

The plaintiff alleges Shield’s mask detection feature uses Rekognition, so the company improperly stored and profited from her biometrics.

Another case, involving Envoy Air, a unit of American Airlines, is winding down. A settlement has been approved by the company and plaintiff workers calling for a $300,000 payment to plaintiffs. According to legal industry news publication Law360, the judge is contemplating a 40 percent fee the workers’ lawyers are requesting.

The judge reportedly will say yea or nay on the fee within two weeks.

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