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BIPA statute of limitations varies depending on charges


An Illinois state appeals panel ruled Friday that the statute of limitations under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act varies depending upon the charges in the case.

The law, which is referred to as BIPA, requires businesses that store biometric information to inform the subject in writing that the data is being collected or stored and the purpose and duration for which it is being collected.

It also requires that businesses receive the subject’s written consent. The law, which does not include a statute of limitations, has led to numerous lawsuits against companies.

Jerome Tims and Isaac Watson had filed a putative class-action lawsuit against Plainfield, Indiana-based Black Horse Carriers Inc., a freight forwarding service, in Illinois state court in 2019.

Mr. Tims charged the company had not properly informed him and other employees of the purpose and length of the company’s fingerprint storage and use, as required by the law, among other charges.

The Chicago trial court asked the state appeals court to rule on whether a one-year or five-year statute of limitations, an issue not addressed in the legislation, applies.

The court held it depends on the charges. It said that under state law, there is a one-year statute of limitation if the charge involves “public disclosure of private facts, appropriation of the name or likeness of another, and false-light publicity.”

But there is a five-year limitation period for “all civil actions not otherwise provided for,” under state law, the ruling said in remanding the case to the lower court for further proceedings.

Jean Y. Liu, a defense attorney with Kaufman Dolowich Voluck LLP in Chicago, who is not involved in the case, said the ruling “brings some clarity” to the issue of statute of limitations. Parties have essentially been making educated guesses about the applicable statute of limitations, she said.

She said, however, “Plaintiff attorneys are likely to welcome the affirmation of a five-year statute of limitations” in cases where there are charges of multiple violations of the law.

Ms. Liu also noted there is a similar case now on appeal in Illinois, Scott Marion v. Ring Container Technologies LLC.

In June, a BIPA case filed against Six Flags Entertainment Corp., whose litigation path included an Illinois Supreme Court ruling, was settled for up to $36 million.