Illinois Supreme Court Grants Big Win for Illinois Citizens’ Privacy
February 17, 2023
The Illinois Supreme Court issued its opinion today in Cothron v. White Castle, a case involving Illinois’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), a special privacy law that protects Illinois residents’ control over their biometric information such as fingerprints, faceprints, iris scans, and other non-changeable biological information. In the case, the plaintiff Latrina Cothron had her fingerprints repeatedly collected by her employer White Castle without her consent, so she sued under BIPA. But White Castle argued that it is not liable because plaintiffs can only sue for the very first time their BIPA rights are violated, and the statute of limitations has passed on White Castle’s first violation of Ms. Cothron’s BIPA rights. EPIC had submitted an amicus brief urging the court to recognize that employers violate the law each time they collect and share biometric information without consent. EPIC argued that this was the clear text of the statute, and had the added benefits of enabling larger recovery against repeat offenders and avoiding incentivizing companies to hide small cases of noncompliance in order to avoid liability by allowing the statute of limitations to run out.
The Illinois Supreme Court agreed with Ms. Cothron and EPIC, finding that the “plain language of the statute” supported the idea that plaintiffs can sue for each and every violation of their BIPA rights, not only the first.
EPIC has filed amicus briefs in other BIPA cases, including Rosenbach v. Six Flags and Patel v. Facebook, and regularly participates as amicus in cases concerning the right to sue for privacy violations.