February 6, 2023

Illinois Supreme Court holds that BIPA is governed by five-year statute of limitations

In Jorome Tims et al. v. Black Horse Carriers, Inc., the Illinois Supreme Court held that all claims brought under the Biometric Information privacy Act (“the Act”) are subject to the five (5) year statute of limitations codified in section 13-205 of the Illinois Code, and not to the one (1) year statute of limitations under section 13-201 of the Code.

The appellate court had previously determined that section 13-201 of the Code (governing the “publication of matter violating the right of privacy”) applied to claims brought under sections 15(c) and 15(d) of the Act where “publication or disclosure of biometric data is clearly an element of the claim,” whereas section 13-205 of the Code applied to claims brought under sections 15(a), 15(b), and 15(e) of the Act where no element of publication or dissemination existed.  The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the appellate court.

Reasoning that a single statute of limitations “reduce[s] uncertainty and create finality and predictability in the administration of justice,” the Illinois Supreme Court held that the five-year “catchall” statute of limitations governs all claims brought under the Act. The court explained that this is consistent with the legislative intent, purpose, and plain language of the Act, and – given the heightened risk of harm associated with the compromise of biometric information – the public interest is served by a longer limitation period. The case was remanded to the circuit court for further proceedings.

Illinois Supreme Court Opinion