Jurors in a district court in Illinois sided with truck drivers in a class-action lawsuit that alleged that BNSF Railway collected drivers’ biometric data without their consent and without explaining how the data would be used. Both are requirements under Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).
BNSF lawyers argued that their client did not own the fingerprint scanning systems used to collect the drivers’ biometrics. The scanners were operated by Remprex. The drivers’ fingerprints had to be scanned to gain access to a rail yard.
The defendant’s motion to dismiss the case because it did not own the fingerprint scanners was denied.
45,000 drivers joined the class-action lawsuit. According to legal news outlet LexBlog, BNSF railway will pay at least $44 million, if the court chooses BIPA’s minimum damage award of $1,000. The settlement could be way higher if the court awards damages for every incident of an illegal biometric scan.
In another BIPA case, Cothron v. White Castle, currently at the Illinois Supreme Court, it was argued that multiple scans, though illegal, amount to only one violation.
Predicting a loss, earlier this week, BNSF lawyers asked the judge to prevent a jury verdict.