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BNSF Rail’s biometric data privacy case a pen stroke away from being history

BNSF Rail’s biometric data privacy case a pen stroke away from being history

Only a judge’s signature remains to settle one of the more storied biometric privacy lawsuits in the United States.

A $75 million settlement has been reached by litigants in Rogers v. BNSF Railway in the U.S. District Court of Illinois. The final approval belongs to the judge, and it is not known if or when that will occur.

BNSF had collected biometric identifiers from all truck drivers entering BNSF railyards. Under Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act, the rail company was required to get consent before collection and specify how the data would be managed.

Like dozens of other companies, BNSF did not do that, and 45,000 drivers took the company to court.

Concurrent with this case, the Illinois Supreme Court decided damage awards in BIPA cases were discretionary, and lawyers for the rail company floated the idea that even if found guilty their clients could face no monetary punishment.

The judge in BNSF’s case, Matthew Kennelly, saw it differently. He order the company to pay $228 million, a decision belayed when he ordered a new jury trial over the penalty.

Settlement talks usurped that trial.

An interesting note was about the trial made about the result by trade publication Bloomberg Law. The attorneys agreed to cap their compensation to 35 percent of the settlement fund plus reasonable costs and expenses.

That means that, assuming Kennelly signs of, class members will get $1,000 each. That is substantially more than any other known class members in other BIPA trials settled in the Northern District of Illinois.

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