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Legal developments in data, privacy, cybersecurity, and other emerging technology issues

Illinois Supreme Court Applies Uniform Five-Year Statute of Limitations to BIPA Claims

The Illinois Supreme Court has issued its highly anticipated ruling in Tims v. Black Horse Carriers, Inc., 2023 IL 127801, which expands the statute of limitations period for certain claims under the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) from one year to five years. The Court reversed in part a previous ruling by the appellate court, which held that a one-year limitations period applied to claims under subsections 15(c) and (d) of BIPA, prohibiting the sale and unauthorized disclosure of biometric data, and affirmed the appellate court’s judgment that a five-year period applied to other claims under BIPA.

In concluding that the 5-year limitation period applies to all claims under BIPA, the Court reasoned that: (i) applying one limitations period rather than two would further the goal of “certainty, predictability, and uniformity”; (ii) applying a one-year period would thwart legislative intent to address “the fears of and risks to the public surrounding the disclosure of highly sensitive biometric information,” and (iii) “the full ramifications of the harms associated with biometric technology is unknown, and absent the Act’s protections, it is unclear when or if an individual would discover evidence” thus limiting claims to one-year would prejudice those BIPA was intended to protect.

We anticipate that BIPA litigation may increase as a result of the decision, opening the door to claims that were previously considered stale. Furthermore, many BIPA cases were stayed in anticipation of this ruling, which we now expect to move forward once again.  In light of this ruling, businesses and employers should take steps to ensure they are in compliance with BIPA requirements, such as reviewing their existing biometric data practices, implementing new policies and procedures, and providing training to their employees on the requirements of BIPA.

The important question as to when the five-year period begins to accrue is the subject of another critical BIPA lawsuit pending before the Illinois Supreme Court in Cothron v. White Castle Systems, Inc., Docket No. 128004, which is expected to be issued in the near term.

Topics: Biometrics, BIPA
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