In October, we discussed one of the hottest trending class-action claims: the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act (BIPA). In our alert, we noted that it was not clear whether a plaintiff would need to show a concrete injury to be entitled to damages or whether a mere statutory violation would be sufficient to warrant damages.

On November 21, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision on this very issue.

In Santana v. Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., the Second Circuit issued a non-precedential summary decision concluding that a mere statutory or procedural violation was NOT sufficient to bring a claim under BIPA.

  • Defendant, a video gaming company, used facial scanning software to create an avatar of the player. The Court ruled that plaintiff’s participation in the facial scanning process was a consensual act.
  • The Court concluded that plaintiff did not have standing in any event and that to establish standing a plaintiff would have to show that the “violation, if true, presents a material risk that their biometric data will be misused or disclosed” or “improperly accessed by third parties.”

For employers, Santana is a welcome decision because it creates a much higher bar for plaintiffs to survive a motion to dismiss.

  • Notably, this ruling is not binding on other district courts outside the Second Circuit (and, as mentioned, it is a non-precedential decision) nor any Illinois state courts.
  • However, we believe Santana puts employers and other defendants in a better position to avoid lengthy litigation and penalties for any BIPA violations.

BOTTOM LINE:

  • Even if other courts follow the Second Circuit’s lead, employers would be well-served to adopt a policy and obtain consent of employees among the other taking steps recommended in our earlier alert now to avoid class action liability under BIPA.