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Court decision indicates the path to biometric coverage



An Illinois federal district court ruling last week that a policyholder is liable for coverage under a litigation employment policy filed under the Illinois Landmark Biometrics Act is one of several cases pending or pending that shape the law's parameters.

While last week's judgment in Twin City Fire Insurance Co. v. Vonachen Services Inc. et. al could create a precedent for liability protection for employment practices, previous judgments have established that general liability protection applies to certain cases involving offenses.

Other cases, which have not yet been decided, include allegations against an online eyewear company and a university testing students at a distance.

All cases concern alleged violations of the 2008 Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, which requires companies that store biometric information to provide written information. the subject that the data is collected or stored and for what purpose and duration it is collected. It also requires companies to obtain the written consent of the subject.

In last week's judgment, a U.S. district court in Peoria, Illinois, cited language in Vonachen Services Inc.'s handbook on holding the Hartford Twin City Fire Insurance Co. the Peoria-based caretaker company in two alleged class actions accusing it of violating BIPA, according to the judgment .

This is the first court in Illinois to determine whether EPLI policies are applicable in cases involving the law, according to the plaintiff's attorney in the case, John S. Vishneski III, a partner with Reed Smith LLP in Chicago.

"As litigation continues, we will see more and more derived litigation in insurance litigation like this," said Gregory P. Abrams, a partner with Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP in Chicago, who represents employers.

Mr. Vishneski said that most or all of the reported decisions in the matter "are in the CGL context, " including last year's highest court ruling in Illinois in West Bend Insurance Co. v. Tan Inc. and Schaumburg. Klaudia Sekura. In that case, the Supreme Court unanimously agreed with previous rulings of a trial court and an appellate court that West Bend, a Wisconsin-based insurer, was required to defend Schaumburg, Illinois-based Krishna Schaumburg Tan Inc., who was accused of violating Illinois. Biometric Information Act.

The Twin City ruling has significant implications for employers and insurers and underscores the need to review personnel manuals, said Fredric D. Bellamy, a member of the Dickinson Wright PLLC in that case.

is a "well thought out and carefully analyzed decision, and I think this will be very important in the future", he said.

Observers say that while other states have comparable laws, Illinois is the only state that allows individuals to pursue litigation under a private right to speak, even though New York City has enacted such legislation.

In 201

9, the Illinois Supreme Court in Rosenbach v. Six Flags ruled that individuals do not have to claim harm or a negative effect in order to successfully claim a violation of the law. A settlement in the case was announced in June.

The State Supreme Court will also rule in McDonald v. Symphony Bronzeville Park LLC whether the Illinois Workers Compensation Statutes exclusive tort claim if bi employs an employee a tort claim if PA violated employees' statutory privacy rights under the law.

In September 2020, a state appellate court unanimously ruled that a class of workers could proceed with the case.

Other important BIPA decisions in Illinois include Tim v. Black Horse Carriers Inc. In its complex judgment of 17 September, a State Court of Appeal ruled that a limitation period of one year applies to privacy claims and a five-year period applies to other civil proceedings.

Among pending decisions, the Seventh U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago will rule in Cothron v. White Castle Systems Inc. if violations occur each time an illegal biometric scan is performed.

A lawyer who asked not to be identified said the number of BIPA cases filed in Illinois dropped to three or four a week last year from five to 10 a week "just because every major company that can be sued has been sued."

Cases involving consumers and students have also been filed. For example, a lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court of Springfield, Illinois, in Sherry Cruz v. Ditto Technologies Inc. accuses a California online eyewear company of using virtual try-on technology to violate BIPA.

In addition, a suspected class action lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Peoria, Illinois, is accused of Bradley University violating BIPA in its collection of biometric data through its use of an online remote control tool, according to the amended April 7 complaint in Thomas Duerr and Gabriel Foley v. Bradley University.


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