Last week, a federal court in Illinois dismissed a putative class action complaint alleging violations of the Illinois Biometrics Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”) for engaging in “impermissible group pleading.”  The ruling serves as a reminder that a complaint that fails to plead specific facts as to each defendant does not meet the Rule 8 pleading standards and is subject to dismissal.

In Vaughan v. Biomat USA, Inc., No. 20-cv-04241 (N.D. Ill.), the plaintiffs alleged that each time they donated plasma at one of defendants’ Illinois-based centers they were required to scan at least one fingerprint into the companies’ biometric systems.  They claim that the defendants used the biometric data to identify and track donors but did not obtain the donors’ informed consent.  As a result of the defendants’ conduct, the plaintiffs contend that they have been exposed to “serious and irreversible privacy risks” and have been deprived of certain information to which they are entitled under the statute.

The Northern District of Illinois determined that other than providing “rudimentary” information about where the defendants are based and operates, the operative complaint “simply lumps” the defendants together, claiming all three of them performed the same actions.  Further, the plaintiffs failed to plead facts that would notify each defendant of the scope of its potential liability.  For example, the court noted that the plaintiffs should be able to articulate which plasma donation centers the plaintiffs visited, which defendant operated those centers, and the relationship between the three defendants “in at least general terms because plaintiffs made the decision to sue these entities in the same suit.”

The court gave the plaintiffs three weeks to amend their complaint. 

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Ellen Choi

Ellen Y. Choi is a member of the firm’s Litigation and Investigations Practice Group. She represents clients in complex commercial disputes involving a range of issues such as business torts, consumer protection, and insurance recovery. Ellen also has experience in a range of…

Ellen Y. Choi is a member of the firm’s Litigation and Investigations Practice Group. She represents clients in complex commercial disputes involving a range of issues such as business torts, consumer protection, and insurance recovery. Ellen also has experience in a range of internal investigations, including workplace culture investigations. Ellen maintains an active pro bono practice.

Ellen is fluent in Korean and has experience advising Korean companies in litigation and investigation matters.

Prior to joining Covington, Ellen clerked for Judge Philip S. Gutierrez, U.S. District Court, Central District of California. Ellen was a management consultant in the pharmaceutical and biotech space before practicing law.

Photo of Kathryn Cahoy Kathryn Cahoy

Kate Cahoy uses her substantial class action experience to help clients develop strategic and innovative solutions to their most challenging litigation matters. She specializes in defending clients in complex, high-stakes class action disputes involving privacy, antitrust, and consumer protection claims and has achieved…

Kate Cahoy uses her substantial class action experience to help clients develop strategic and innovative solutions to their most challenging litigation matters. She specializes in defending clients in complex, high-stakes class action disputes involving privacy, antitrust, and consumer protection claims and has achieved significant victories for clients in the technology, entertainment, consumer product, and financial services industries. In addition, Kate has substantial experience litigating cases brought under California’s Section 17200 and other consumer protection, competition, and privacy laws, including the Sherman Act, California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA), Wiretap Act, Stored Communications Act, Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), and common law and constitutional rights of privacy, among others.