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Illinois Case Law Update

Author: Amy Chambers

Guest Editor: Cinnamon J. Carr

August 3, 2020 10:47am

Bryant et al. v. Compass Group U.S.A., Inc., Case No. 20-1443

On May 5, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that federal courts can hear claims that employers violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”) by collecting fingerprints without the informed consent of their employees.

The decision arises from the case of Bryant et al. v. Compass Group U.S.A., Inc. wherein the plaintiff employee of Compass Group USA alleged that the company failed to disclose its intentions before collecting her biometric information through a vending machine at work.  The plaintiff initially filed her claim in state court.  Thereafter, the defendant removed the matter to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act.

The issue before the Seventh Circuit was whether the plaintiff had alleged a particularized injury establishing Article III standing rather than a mere procedural violation.

Prior to this ruling, most federal districts in Illinois had held that the federal courts did not have jurisdiction to hear such claims, resulting in employers having to litigate BIPA cases in Illinois state, which has less strict standing requirements.

In addition to plaintiff’s claim under BIPA regarding the lack of informed consent, plaintiff also brought another BIPA claim under section 15(a) of the Act, which requires a publicly available data public retention schedule and guidelines for permanently destroying biometric information.  The Seventh Circuit determined plaintiff did not have standing to bring this claim in federal court because any duty the defendant had under this section was owed to the public generally, and not to particular persons whose biometric information it collects, and plaintiff failed to allege any particularized harm that resulted from the defendant’s alleged violation.

On May 19, 2020, defendant moved for a rehearing en banc, or alternatively, limited rehearing by the panel on the Section 15(a) issue.

Takeaway

Employers in the Seventh Circuit now have the option to remove BIPA claims to federal court where the class certification requirements are more stringent.

 

Christy Rios v. Bayer Corp. et al., Case No. 125020 and Hamby et al. v. Bayer Corp., et al., Case No. 125021

In June 2020, the Illinois Supreme Court, in a 7-0 decision, held that the claims of over 150 nonresidents must be dismissed from two consolidated lawsuits alleging Bayer Corp. Defectively manufacture and marketed a birth control device.

The Court relied on the United States Supreme Court case Bristol-Myers v. Superior Court, wherein the U.S. Supreme Court held that a group of plaintiff’s could not maintain a lawsuit against Bristol-Myers Squibb in California for injuries related to the use of a blood thinner because the plaintiffs neither lived in California nor sustained their injuries in the state.  Citing to Bristol-Myers, the Illinois Supreme Court determined that the plaintiffs in the matters before it identified “no jurisdictionally relevant links” between their claims and the state of Illinois sufficient to maintain the action in that state.

Takeaway

The Court’s decision will make it more difficult for out of state forum shoppers to bring claims in certain Illinois jurisdictions that are perceived as “plaintiff-friendly.”

 

Mary Lewis et al. v. Atlantic Richfield Co., et al., Case No. 124107

In May 2020, the Illinois Supreme Court held that a class of Illinois parents did not suffer an injury where they were suing a pain manufacturer to recover the cost of their children’s mandatory blood tests to check for lead where Medicaid ultimately paid the costs of the screenings.

The Court explained that the parents could not show any actual economic loss, an essential element of the claim of intentional misrepresentation.  The Court also rejected the parents’ argument that they were entitled to recover the cost of the screening whether they paid it or Medicaid paid it based on the collateral source rule.

The collateral source rule typically arises in tort cases where an insurance carrier covers some portion of the plaintiff’s expenses.  The rule prevents the defendant from submitting evidence that the plaintiff received compensation from a collateral source (insurance company).

In Lewis, the Court explained that the parents “put the cart before the horse” when they framed the issue of whether the rule applies in a case involving purely economic injury as it wasn’t established the parents had suffered any injury at all.   The Court further explained, “Applying the collateral source rule to pure economic-loss tort cases like the one before us would obscure the very nature of the cause of action. It would allow plaintiffs who have themselves suffered no injury, economic loss, or damages to sue anyway.”

Takeaway

The court clarified that the collateral source rule is a rule of evidence rather than an independent method of showing injury. Plaintiff cannot invoke the rule without having actually established they suffered an injury.

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