Despite its enactment in 2008, the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act’s (BIPA) legal standards were largely undeveloped until its emergence to the main stage circa 2017. But with the decisions in Rosenbach v. Six Flags in 2019 (standing) and McDonald v. Symphony in 2022 (workers’ compensation), and the recent $228 million jury verdict against BNSF Railway in the first-ever BIPA trial, we continue to see the BIPA landscape take shape. With more than 250 lawsuits filed in 2022 alone, BIPA litigation shows no signs of slowing down. As we look forward to another busy year of BIPA litigation in 2023, attorneys on both sides of the ‘v.’ eagerly await two critical decisions from the Illinois Supreme Court that could significantly impact pending and future litigation.

Statute of Limitations – decision to be issued on February 2, 2023

Tims v. Black Horse Carriers, Inc. (No. 127801) seeks to resolve the longstanding debate about the appropriate statute of limitations for BIPA actions. Because the law is silent on the issue, the defense bar (including in Tims) argues that the one-year limitations period for privacy actions outlined in 735 ILCS 5/13-201 should apply. On the other hand, plaintiffs argue (like in Tims) that the five-year “catch-all” limitations period contained in 735 ILCS 5/13-205 is more appropriate for actions under BIPA. However, in 2021, the Illinois Appellate Court complicated matters when it decided that the one-year and five-year limitations periods applied to different sections of the Act. See, generally, 2021 IL App (1st) 200563. Specifically, the Appellate Court held that the one-year period under § 201 applies to Section 15(c) and 15(d) BIPA claims because those sections involve the “publication” of biometric data, which is a term explicitly used in § 201. Conversely, since the Appellate Court found that Sections 15(a), (b), and (e) of the BIPA do not involve the publication of an individual’s biometric data, it applied the five-year limitations period from § 205 to those sections.

Given the split among limitations and claims by the Appellate Court, a reversal by the Illinois Supreme Court on any claim could be significant for both plaintiffs and defendants. For example, suppose the Supreme Court decides that a blanketed one-year limitation applies to BIPA claims. In that case, it could significantly reduce the class size of current class actions and certainly result in some time-barred lawsuits. However, the opposite would hold if the Supreme Court decides that a blanketed five-year limitation applies. Indeed, hundreds of BIPA lawsuits have been stayed for more than a year as this issue gets resolved, many with a pending motion to dismiss, raising the statute of limitations issue. Tims was argued before the court in September 2022, and today, the Illinois Supreme Court announced that a decision will come down on February 2, 2023.

Claim Accrual

Cothron v. White Castle (No. 128004) will determine whether claims asserted under 15(b) and 15(d) of BIPA accrue only once upon the initial collection or disclosure of biometric information, or each time a private entity collects or discloses biometric information. While currently before the Illinois Supreme Court, the case is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Following the district court’s rejection of White Castle’s “one time only” accrual theory at summary judgment, the court found the question close enough to warrant an interlocutory appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b). During the appeal, the plaintiff asked the Seventh Circuit to certify the question to the Illinois Supreme Court. See 20 F.4th 1156, 1159 (7th Cir. 2021). The Seventh Circuit obliged and directed the Illinois Supreme Court to answer the following question: “Do Section 15(b) and 15(d) claims accrue each time a private entity scans a person’s biometric identifier and each time a private entity transmits such a scan to a third party, respectively, or only upon the first scan and first transmission?” Id. at 1167.

Oral argument before the Illinois Supreme Court in Cothron occurred in May 2022. White Castle argued that a first-scan theory is appropriate because that is when the privacy right is first invaded, and the loss of control occurs. White Castle also stressed that the issue of damages is necessarily intertwined with the issue of accrual and encouraged the court to weigh the consequences of holding that accrual occurs at each collection. Citing proximity to the issue before the court, White Castle suggested that the damages component be analyzed because the only safeguard against future plaintiffs seeking damages on a “per-scan” model are Due Process concerns and the possibility that lower courts may not find such significant awards appropriate. While conceding that Due Process concerns would likely safeguard against a per-scan damages model, the plaintiff argued that White Castle’s view would obviate the need for defendants to course correct and would avoid consequences for existing issues.

Resolution of the claim accrual issue is crucial for BIPA litigation. If the court decides that a claim accrues upon each scan without addressing the damages component, penalties for even the smallest of companies could be astronomical with only a Due Process argument to rely upon. Indeed, if the court does not address the damages component of accrual at this juncture, it will likely result in another round of stays until the issue is decided on a later appeal. A decision on this matter is expected in the first quarter of 2023.

For up to date information on these cases, the Seyfarth Shaw Commercial Consumer Class Action Defense practice group will provide detailed summaries of the decisions as they are released by the Illinois Supreme Court.

Compliance Recommendations

Despite these BIPA issues still up in the air, there are a few basic practices that can already be followed to avoid, or mitigate exposure under the statute:

  1. Maintain a public privacy policy;
  2. Permanently destroy biometric information in a timely manner;
  3. Provide pre-collection notice;
  4. Obtain pre-collection consent;
  5. Maintain security measures to safeguard biometric information;
  6. Strictly prohibit sales and any other form of profiting from biometric information, including for any vendors; and
  7. Obtain vendor compliance with BIPA.

Seyfarth Shaw LLP is an Amlaw 100 firm with a nationally recognized class action defense practice group. For information regarding Seyfarth’s Commercial Consumer Class Action Defense practice group, contact the National Chair, Kristine Argentine, at Seyfarth is also a leader in BIPA class action litigation and routinely counsels clients on compliance and defense strategies to mitigate exposure from the statute. For more information regarding BIPA compliance or litigation, contact Paul Yovanic, at

Seyfarth’s Commercial Litigation practice group is pleased to provide the third annual installment the Commercial Litigation Outlook, where our nationally-recognized team provides insights about litigation issues and trends to expect in 2023.

The continuing global tumult and increasing chances for a recession will weigh heavily on the litigation outlook for 2023. We expect an uneven year where some litigation booms, some busts. As was true last year, the trick to navigating the upcoming challenges will require clients and their counsel to be adaptive, creative, and proactive.

Trends covered in this edition include: Antitrust, Bankruptcy, Consumer Class Actions, Consumer Financial Services Litigation, eDiscovery & Innovation, ESG, Franchise & Distribution, Health Care Litigation, Insurance, International Dispute Resolution, Privacy, Real Estate Litigation, Securities Litigation, Trade Secrets, Computer Fraud & Non-Competes and the Trial Outlook.

Click here to download the 2023 Commercial Litigation Outlook.

Over the term of this Administration, the DOJ and FTC have taken aggressive and novel antitrust positions as it relates to the labor market, launching broad investigations and criminal and civil prosecutions against companies and their employees for alleged labor market allocations, misuse of non-compete and non-solicitation provisions, and wage fixing. The State Attorney General Antitrust Divisions have followed suit investigating and pursuing these claims at the state level. As so often happens, these government investigations and public inquiries then serve as the basis for expansive class actions.

On Episode 33 of Seyfarth’s Health Care Beat Podcast, host Chris DeMeo is joined by Kristine Argentine, partner in Seyfarth’s Chicago office and chair of the firm’s Commercial Consumer Class Action Defense group. Their discussion focusses on a string of recent cases involving the pursuit of employers across the health care industry (and others) for labor-related antitrust violations. Kristine also provides insight on how businesses can protect their investments in personnel, while successfully mitigating the threat of criminal prosecution.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Over the past year, a barrage of class action lawsuits asserting violations of the Video Privacy Protection Act (“VPPA”)—a vintage Reagan-era federal consumer privacy law—has shed light on potential liability facing companies that embed video content onto company websites and simultaneously collect and share consumer viewing data in the course of marketing analytics.

The VPPA is, until recently, a rarely invoked federal statute that was enacted to protect the privacy of information about people’s video tape rentals after the press leaked a list of a Supreme Court nominee’s movie watching habits in 1987. However, the VPPA is now providing the foundation for a new class of consumer privacy lawsuits based upon the way companies may be tracking and sharing data collected when consumers view video content posted on company websites, apps, and/or shared via email marketing.

A. What is the VPPA?

The VPPA prohibits a person or business that rents, sells, or delivers prerecorded “video cassette tapes or similar audio visual materials” from “knowingly disclos[ing], to any person, personally identifiable information concerning any consumer of such provider. . . .,” absent informed, written consent as defined by the VPPA. 18 U.S.C. § 2710(a)-(b). Under the Act, “personally identifiable information” or “PII” is “information which identifies a person as having requested or obtained specific video materials or services from a video tape service provider.” 18 U.S.C. § 2710(a)(3).

If liability is found, the VPPA allows consumers to seek the trifecta of remedies—(1) statutory damages in the amount $2,500 per violation, (2) punitive damages, and (3) recovery of attorneys’ fees. 18 U.S.C. § 2710(c).

B. VPPA Claims in 2023

A slew of nationwide lawsuits are asserting violations of the VPPA. These lawsuits have nothing to do with video rental stores, instead alleging that businesses are illegally sharing consumers’ viewing history and PII with Facebook and other social media companies through a tracking pixel placed on company websites that can collect, among other things, a consumer’s navigation to a page containing an embedded video or audio visual file.

These universally utilized “tracking pixels” are pieces of code for Google Analytics and/or Meta Platforms Inc. that are incorporated into a company website that collect information about how users interact with the site, such as whether users initiate purchases, what content users view, and other details, and then shares information about the individual including the title and URL of the video.

C. Current Litigation

It has been reported that over 70 lawsuits asserting claims under the VPPA have been filed in the past year, and due to the willingness of some courts to entertain these claims at least past a motion to dismiss stage, it is very likely that more lawsuits will continue to be filed.

Companies faced with VPPA claims have argued that the information collected by the tracking pixels does not rise to the level of PII. There is a split of authority dictating what qualifies as PII. For example, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts in the First Circuit has adopted a broad approach, holding that the transmission of viewing records along with GPS coordinates and a device’s unique identification number constituted PII despite requiring additional information in order to link the plaintiff to their video history. In contrast, other courts including the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in the Second Circuit have adopted a narrower view, requiring that for information to qualify as PII the disclosure itself, without any additional information, must identify a particular person.

Other arguments advanced in motions to dismiss VPPA claims include the following:

  1. The plaintiff is not a consumer under the VPPA. The VPPA defines “consumer” to mean any renter, purchaser, or subscriber of goods or services from a video tape service provider;
  2. The plaintiff cannot show that defendant is a “video tape service provider” under the VPPA;
  3. The plaintiff failed to plausibly allege that the defendant “disclosed” personally identifiable information because it is the consumer’s web browser, as opposed to the company website, that transmits the purportedly identifying consumer data;
  4. The plaintiff failed to plausibly allege that the defendant “knowingly” disclosed PII since the defendants have no access to or knowledge of the existence of the cookie on the web browser that may transmit the additional information; and
  5. The VPPA is unconstitutional because it restricts commercial speech in violation of the First Amendment.

Faced with these arguments, at least three courts—the United States District Court for the Districts of Massachusetts, Southern District of New York, and Northern District of Georgia— have denied motions to dismiss, finding that the plaintiffs plausibly asserted a claim under the VPPA, and allowing the VPPA claim to proceed to discovery.

Some defendants, however, have found success. As noted above, the Southern District of New York takes a narrow view on what qualifies as PII, and as a result dismissed a VPPA claim on the basis that the plaintiff failed to plausibly allege that the information the defendant company disclosed to third parties was PII. Federal district courts for Rhode Island and the Northern District of California have also dismissed VPPA claims where the viewed content at issue was live-streamed content, as opposed to prerecorded, on the basis that this fell outside the definition of “video tape service provider” in § 2710(a)(4).

The orders issued from these cases thus far demonstrate that there is no imminent consensus among federal courts. Until there is a clear consensus among federal courts on the viability of VPPA claims, we can expect to see a continued stream of VPPA litigation.

The slew of lawsuits alleging VPPA claims seek to impose enormous liability on what has become routine and universal data analytics. As a result, companies that utilize video content in brand marketing and advertising analytics could potentially be opening themselves up to a new class of consumer privacy litigation seeking $2,500 in statutory fees per violation, as well as potential punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.

Time of the event:
3:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Eastern
2:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Central
1:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Mountain
12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. Pacific

About the Program

On Tuesday, February 7th, Seyfarth attorneys Ada Dolph and Danielle Kays will present a webinar entitled The Here and Now of BIPA: Updates and Developments in Biometric Privacy.

As we move into 2023, Biometric Information Privacy remains a constantly evolving field, with states enacting new statutes, technology evolving, plaintiffs raising new theories, and cases being filed daily. Keeping up with biometric laws can be a daunting task for these reasons. Join our experts as we take a look at some of the recent developments in this ever-changing area of law, and break down how companies can adapt.

Topics include:

  • Questions that have finally been answered, and which areas remain unresolved
  • How to remain in compliance and avoid violations
  • What’s next for information privacy and protection

To register, click here.

If you have any questions, please contact Kate Stacey at and reference this event.

This webinar is accredited for CLE in CA, IL, NJ, and NY. Credit will be applied for as requested for TX, GA, WA, NC and VA. The following jurisdictions may accept reciprocal credit with these accredited states, and individuals can use the certificate they receive to gain CLE credit therein: AZ, CT, NH. The following jurisdictions do not require CLE, but attendees will receive general certificates of attendance: DC, MA, MD, MI, SD. For all other jurisdictions, a general certificate of attendance and the necessary materials will be issued that can be used in other jurisdictions for self-application. Please note that attendance must be submitted within 10 business days of the program taking place. If you have questions about jurisdictions, please email CLE credit for this recording expires on February 6, 2024.

Following its recent “initiative” and request for information to reduce “exploitative junk fees,” the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) has on June 29, 2022 released an advisory opinion. The opinion concludes that “pay-to-pay fees,” which the debt collection industry refers to as “convenience fees” violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) “unless the fee amount is in the consumer’s contract or affirmatively permitted by law.”

Section 808(1) of the FDCPA, 15 U.S.C. § 1692f(1), states: “A debt collector may not use unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt. Without limiting the general application of the foregoing, the following conduct is a violation of this section: (1) The collection of any amount (including any interest, fee, charge, or expense incidental to the principal obligation) unless such amount is expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law.” Despite acknowledging that some courts have ruled otherwise, the advisory opinion concludes that “[t]he collection of any fee is prohibited unless the fee amount is in the consumer’s contract or affirmatively permitted by law.” CFPB Press release; see advisory opinion at 5. The opinion also construes the term “permitted by law” narrowly so that “[w]here no law expressly authorizes a fee, it is not ‘permitted by law,’ even if no law expressly prohibits it.” Id. “The CFPB therefore interprets FDCPA section 808(1) to prohibit a debt collector from collecting any amount unless such amount either is expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt (and is not prohibited by law) or is expressly permitted by law. That is, the CFPB interprets FDCPA section 808(1) to permit collection of an amount only if: (1) the agreement creating the debt expressly permits the charge and some law does not prohibit it; or (2) some law expressly permits the charge, even if the agreement creating the debt is silent.” Advisory opinion at 6. The opinion also clarifies that “[d]ebt collectors violate the FDCPA when using payment processors who charge unauthorized fees at a minimum if the debt collector receives a kickback from the payment processor.” CFPB Press release.

The CFPB’s jurisdiction and advisory opinion is limited to construing federal law, in this instance the FDCPA, which governs consumer debt collection by (mostly) third-party debt collectors. But it’s advisory opinion has state law implications as well. The Pennsylvania state law version of the FDCPA, for example, not only declares that “[i]t shall constitute an unfair or deceptive collection act or practice under this act if a debt collector violates any of the provisions of the [FDCPA],” it further prohibits first-party creditors from “us[ing] unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt” by “collect[ing] … any amount, including any interest, fee, charge or expense incidental to the principal obligation, unless such amount is expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law.” PA ST § 2270.4(a) & (b)(6)(i). The Rhode Island version also prohibits “[a] debt collector,” defined to (mostly) include third-party collectors, from “[c]ollecting any amount (including any interest, fee, charge, or expense incidental to the principal obligation) unless such amount is expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law[.]” RI ST § 19-14.9-8(a). Collectors of consumer debt should check the laws of their applicable jurisdictions.

On June 15, 2022, in Viking River Cruises v. Moriana, the United States Supreme Court ruled that individual claims under the California Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) can be compelled to arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act, partially preempting the California Supreme Court’s longstanding and contrary Iskanian decision.

To read the full Legal Update, click here.

As we previously reported, employers generally have found success when the United States Supreme Court takes up questions about the arbitrability of workplace disputes. The unanimous decision in Southwest Airlines Co. v. Saxon bucks that trend, holding that those who load cargo onto airplanes engaged in interstate travel are exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). The Court’s fact-specific decision, however, rejects any bright-line test. As such, it leaves room for employers looking to enforce their arbitration agreements under federal law and opens the door to future litigation regarding whether workers are actually “engaged in interstate commerce” when they do not cross borders to perform their work.

To read the full Legal Update, click here.

Medical service providers who engage in medical billing, debt collection, and credit reporting are the focus of new regulations and regulatory enforcement efforts. Civil litigation is sure to follow. Under the direction of its new Director, Rohit Chopra, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “is working to stop unfair medical debt collection and coercive credit reporting practices that add to the strain on American families.” The Bureau has targeted that “$88 billion of outstanding medical bills are currently in collections – affecting one in five Americans.” Id. A federal consumer protection law, the “No Surprises Act,” came into force this year. It provides billing and collection rights to medical patients, both insured and uninsured. The Bureau has issued a Bulletin, warning that the attempted collection of a medical debt that is barred by the No Surprises Act may violate federal consumer debt collection practice law. A plethora and ever growing number of state laws also heavily regulate medical billing, collection, and credit reporting practices.

To read the full Legal Update, click here.

A federal judge has dismissed a class action lawsuit that challenged the Washington Long-Term Cares Act (“Cares Act”), ruling that because the Cares Act is not established or maintained by an employer and/or employee organization, it is not an employee benefit plan and therefore not governed or preempted by ERISA. The Court also held that the premiums assessed by the Cares Act constitute a state tax. As such, only state courts, not U.S. federal courts, have jurisdiction to rule on the Cares Act.

Click here to read our Legal Update on the dismissal of the law suit.