Key Ruling in Shook Biometric Privacy Win May Affect Future BIPA Cases

Employers may gain a better understanding of which court to resolve disputes under the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act (BIPA) with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit’s ruling that “a specific form of harm” should be heard in federal courts, not state courts.

The ruling in November is a key clarification from a previous ruling in Bryant v Compass Group USA Inc. last May. In this latest case, auto interiors supplier and Shook client Dakkota Integrated Systems, LLC removed the case to federal court, and the district court judge dismissed two of Plaintiff Fox’s three causes of action as preempted by the Labor Management Relations Act. The third claim, the district court held sua sponte, lacked Article III standing based on the Bryant ruling. The Seventh Circuit ruled that the district court “made a mistake” when it remanded Fox’s 15(a) Section of BIPA claim. Fox, who was plaintiff and a former employee, alleged in state court the company violated BIPA by collecting, retaining and disclosing her handprint in the use of its timekeeping technology. 

“Fox alleges a concrete and particularized invasion of her privacy interest in her biometric data stemming from Dakkota’s violation of the full panoply of its Section 15(a) duties—the duties to develop, publicly disclose and comply with data retention and destruction policies—resulting in the wrongful retention of her biometric data after her employment ended, beyond the time authorized by law,” the court said. “These allegations suffice to plead an injury in fact for purposes of Article III.”

Shook Of Counsel Erin Bolan Hines, Partners Melissa Siebert and Matt Wolfe, and Associate Jon Studer represented Dakkota. Siebert leads Shook’s Biometric Privacy Task Force. 

Law360 reported on the case in “7th Circ. Further Clarifies Standing Of Biometric Privacy Suits,” November 18, 2020. Bloomberg Law, Reuters and Cook County Record also reported on the Seventh Circuit decision.

The case is Fox v. Dakkota Integrated Systems, No. 20-2782 (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, November 17, 2020).