September 9, 2022

Illinois federal court grants final approval of $6.8 million class settlement for alleged BIPA violations

On September 8, 2022, the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted final approval of $6.8 million class action settlement involving Compass Group USA Inc., a food and support services company and 365 Retail Markets, LLC (the Defendants) and a putative class of Illinois plaintiffs who claimed that the companies violated section 15(b) of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).  The settlement resolves allegations that the Defendants collected fingerprint scans from former call center employee Christine Bryant and other Illinois residents to enable them to operate vending machines that required a fingerprint, rather than cash, to make purchases.  Bryant claimed that the fingerprint scans were unlawfully collected without first obtaining her written consent as required by BIPA.   

In May of 2020, the Bryant case was also reviewed by a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals which ultimately ruled that class plaintiffs can bring BIPA cases in federal court because the collection of biometric data by their employers without their consent constitutes a concrete and particularized injury sufficient to establish standing – a decision that went against the prevailing view in Illinois federal courts at the time.  The court determined that Section 15(b) violations of BIPA involve a particularized injury to the plaintiff’s right to informed consent.  However, the Seventh Circuit made a distinction between Section 15(b) violations related to an individual’s informed consent and Section 15(a) violations concerning the defendant’s failure to make its retention schedule and guidelines available to the public as required by BIPA.  The Seventh Circuit held that the Bryant lacked standing to bring Section 15(a) violations in federal court because it did not involve a particularized injury suffered by an individual person but instead involved a duty owed to the public in general.  

Under the approved class settlement, the Defendants deny all liability and wrongdoing alleged in the case but agreed to pay a non-reversionary gross fund of $6.8 million to resolve the BIPA claims made by Bryant and the members of the class.  The court also issued final approval of the class, which is comprised of all individuals who scanned their fingerprints into one or more of the Defendants’ vending machines in Illinois between August of 2014 and the date of the 2021 preliminary approval.  According to the Plaintiff’s Memorandum of Law in Support of Her Unopposed Motion for Final Approval of Class Action Settlement, a total of 55,309 individuals received notice regarding the proposed class settlement and an “impressive” 16.97 percent of those class members returned claim forms to request payment.  Based on this information, following the distribution of service awards, administrative costs and attorneys’ fees, each class member should receive an estimated net payment of $413.75.

Final Approval Order | Plaintiff’s Memo in Support of Unopposed Motion for Final Approval of Class Action Settlement | Seventh Circuit Decision