Unfinished Business: Illinois Legislature Yet to Fix BIPA Exposing Thousands of Illinois Businesses to “Annihilative Liability”
Chicago – Illinois Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (IL-CALA) Executive Director Phil Melin called on the Illinois Legislature to make fixes to the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) when it returns to Springfield later this month.
Melin said, “BIPA has a noble purpose to protect people’s biometric information, like fingerprints, but the current law needs revision because the penalties and liability exposure are ridiculously disproportionate.” Melin continued, “In its decision earlier this year, the Illinois Supreme Court found White Castle could be sued for an astonishing $17 Billion, but also urged the Illinois legislature to fix BIPA because the current version subjects companies to potential “annihilative liability”.
“There are simple fixes that can be made that would protect biometric privacy and protect good faith businesses.” Melin continued, “under the current interpretation of the law, a company is liable for up to $5,000 every time an employee checks into and out of work with a finger-print scanner. The Illinois legislature has the power to reinterpret the law to treat a violation as occurring only when the fingerprint is initially collected.”
Melin highlighted the story shared by a small McHenry County company being sued under BIPA. “The owner told me his insurance coverage doesn’t cover BIPA exposure and that his business may have to agree to a massive settlement just to survive. He says the fingerprint information collected was always secure and never shared outside the firm, but he faces a $5000 penalty for every instance one of his employees checked in and out of work.” Melin continued, “To make matters worse, the class action law firm was calling his employees at work and offering them compensation to join the lawsuit.”
In a report to be published by IL-CALA later this month, more than 1,300 businesses operating in Illinois were defendants in BIPA cases in the Chicago metro region. Melin noted, “Most of these cases are brought by a small handful of national law firms. For example, of the 95 active BIPA cases active in DuPage County, 54 (57%) were filed by the same four law firms.”
He continued, “It’s hard to imagine the Illinois legislature would side with predatory mega law firms and their wild fees while ignoring the thousands of good-faith small businesses in their communities facing annihilative liability exposure.”
Melin concluded, “This is truly a desperate situation for a lot of employers and small businesses in Illinois. It’s time to put politics aside and fix BIPA during the forthcoming veto session.”
Melin is available for interview or background.
Illinois Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (IL-CALA) is a nonpartisan grassroots movement of citizens and businesses fighting against lawsuit abuse in Illinois. IL-CALA serves as a watchdog to challenge the misuse of our civil justice system that has cost our state’s economy billions of dollars and led to numerous bankruptcies and shattered lives. CALA advocates for commonsense legal reform by educating the public about the devastating, real-world costs of lawsuit abuse on working families and small businesses. Learn more at www.cala.com/illinois