On May 16, both houses of Illinois’ legislature passed S.B. 2979, a significant amendment to the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). The bill states that an entity that, in more than one instance, obtains the same biometric identifier or biometric information from the same person using the same method of collection, in violation of BIPA’s notice and consent requirement has committed a single violation. As a result, each aggrieved person is entitled to, at most, one recovery for a single collective violation.

Continue Reading Illinois Legislature Passes BIPA Amendment Limiting Violation Accrual

In Scott v. Dart, 99 F.4th 1076 (7th Cir. 2024), the Seventh Circuit held that incentive awards are sufficient to confer standing on named plaintiffs in appeals of class certification orders.  In doing so, it declined to follow a recent Eleventh Circuit decision holding that incentive awards are unlawful.

Continue Reading Seventh Circuit Declines to Deepen Circuit Split on Incentive Awards

On Tuesday May 16th, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a federal district court does not have discretion to dismiss a case where all claims are subject to arbitration and a party has requested a stay. This resolves a long-standing circuit split. 

Continue Reading Supreme Court Says Courts Cannot Dismiss Claims Pending Arbitration When Stay is Requested

Companies in the food, beverage, pharmaceutical, and other industries continue to face litigation regarding their products’ labeling, including as to whether certain representations on labels are deceptive or misleading.  In the Second Circuit and elsewhere, these lawsuits tend to turn on what an objective “reasonable consumer” would understand the representation at issue to mean, and whether that “reasonable consumer” would likely be misled under the circumstances.  In Bustamante v. KIND, LLC, 2024 WL 1917155 (2d Cir, May 2, 2024), the Second Circuit confirmed how important expert testimony can be to that question, and how efforts to exclude expert testimony can ultimately be the difference between winning and losing. 

Continue Reading A Closer Look: The Importance of Expert Testimony for “Reasonable Consumer” Claims

An Illinois federal district court recently dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction a publicity privacy suit against Geneanet, which the complaint alleges is a French subsidiary of Ancestry.com that owns and operates an interactive genealogy website. See Shebesh v. Geneanet, S.A., No. 23-cv-4195 (N.D. Ill. May 3, 2024). Plaintiff Ethan Shebesh sued on behalf of himself and a putative class under the Illinois Right of Publicity Act, which prevents the use of an individual’s identity for a commercial purpose without the individual’s consent. 765 ILCS 1075/30(a). Shebesh asserted that Geneanet unlawfully used his and the putative class members’ names and other identifying information to advertise and sell premium memberships. Concluding that the plaintiff failed to show that Geneanet intentionally directed its conduct at Illinois, the court granted Geneanet’s motion to dismiss.

Continue Reading Illinois Federal Court Dismisses Publicity Privacy Suit Against French Genealogy Site for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

Courts have recently been grappling with an influx of class actions alleging that company websites are in violation of wiretapping and other privacy laws when using third-party technology to provide services on their websites.  Three different federal courts recently dismissed cases on similar grounds, demonstrating the challenges plaintiffs face with maintaining them and strategies defendants should keep in mind to defeat them. 

Two of the cases accuse healthcare providers of improperly sharing personal health information with third-party technology companies through the use of pixel technologies on the healthcare provider’s website.  In the first case, Doe v. Davita, Inc., plaintiffs accused Davita—a kidney dialysis provider—of violating the California Invasion of Privacy Act (“CIPA”) and other laws by purportedly collecting “patients’ personal and sensitive medical information on the Online Platforms and … improperly shar[ing] [this information] with the Tracking Technologies without patients’ consent.”  2024 WL 1772854, at *2 (S.D. Cal. April 24, 2024).  The court disagreed and dismissed the claims, holding that plaintiffs did “not explain what specific information they provided to Defendant” and calling their claims “conclusory.”  Id.  The complaint, said the court, was “devoid of any facts supporting” plaintiffs’ contentions that Davita disclosed “personal, confidential, and sensitive medical information; medical treatment; and payment information” with the third party.  Id. 

Continue Reading Lack of Plaintiff-Specific Allegations Dooms California, Pennsylvania Privacy-Based Class Actions

A recent New Jersey federal court decision dealt a major blow to class action litigation that seek economic damages associated with the sale of products withdrawn from the market. 

In Gibriano v. Eisai, Inc., et al., 2024 WL 1831546 (D.N.J. Mar. 31, 2024), the plaintiff sought to represent a nationwide class of consumers who purchased a weight-loss medication that was recently voluntarily withdrawn from the market based on FDA’s concerns about potential cancer risk.  The plaintiff did not claim that she had suffered personal injuries.  Rather, she sought money damages, alleging that she over-paid because the medication “did not meaningfully impact her weight” and because the price she paid was “based on the understanding that it was safe.”  She further alleged that, because of the medication’s potential risks, “no reasonable physician would have prescribed [it] and no reasonable consumer would choose to purchase [it].”  In support of her allegations, the plaintiff attached to her complaint a consumer survey suggesting that knowledge of cancer risk would reduce the amount consumers would pay for a medication. 

Continue Reading Class-action claims seeking economic damages for purchase of withdrawn medicine defeated on Article III standing grounds.

Likely spurred by plaintiffs’ recent successes in cases under Illinois’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”), a new wave of class actions is emerging under Illinois’s Genetic Information Privacy Act (“GIPA”). While BIPA regulates the collection, use, and disclosure of biometric data, GIPA regulates that of genetic testing information. Each has a private right of action and provides for significant statutory damages, even potentially where plaintiffs allege a violation of the rule without actual damages.[1] From its 1998 enactment until last year, there were few GIPA cases, and they were largely focused on claims related to genetic testing companies.[2] More recently, plaintiffs have brought dozens of cases against employers alleging GIPA violations based on allegations of employers requesting family medical history through pre-employment physical exams. This article explores GIPA’s background, the current landscape and key issues, and considerations for employers.

Continue Reading Employers Beware: New Wave of Illinois Genetic Information Privacy Act Litigation

A district court judge in the Northern District of California recently denied class certification in a putative privacy class action against Google and its Real Time Bidding (“RTB”) advertising system. Plaintiffs moved to certify both damages and injunctive relief classes based on allegations that Google shared personal information through its RTB system. The court denied with prejudice certification under Rule 23(b)(3), finding that individual questions about class member’s past consent to—and subjective understanding of—Google’s disclosures would predominate. The district court also denied the proposed injunctive relief class on the grounds that the proposed class definition was “fail-safe” and that plaintiffs had not met their burden to prove that their data was representative of the proposed class, but the court did so with leave to amend and requested further briefing. Plaintiffs subsequently petitioned for leave to appeal the denial to the Ninth Circuit.

Continue Reading Affirmative Defense of Consent Leads to 23(b)(3) Class Certification Denial in Google Ad Bidding Privacy Litigation

Last week, a divided Second Circuit panel affirmed a district court ruling denying a motion to compel arbitration of a putative class action seeking classwide equitable remedies under ERISA for alleged mismanagement of an employee stock ownership plan.  The Second Circuit found the defined contribution plan’s mandatory arbitration clause unenforceable because it limited plaintiff’s ability to assert a claim that would result in any relief other than individual relief, and specifically prevented him from pursuing the plan-wide remedy authorized by ERISA Section 502(a)(2).  The Court’s decision extends the “effective vindication exception” and raises questions about the extent to which plans can force individual arbitration of ERISA claims that apply to an entire plan.  

In Cedeno v. Sasson, 2024 WL 1895053 (2d Cir. May 1, 2024), the plaintiff asserted claims under ERISA Sections 502(a)(2) and 409(a), alleging that defendants breached fiduciary duties by purchasing stock shares for purportedly more than fair market value, saddling the Plan with tens of millions of dollars of debt and decreasing its value. 

Continue Reading Second Circuit Blocks Use of Arbitration Clause to Prevent Class Action ERISA Claims