By Paul Yovanic, Kristine R. Argentine, and  Michael D. Jacobsen

In a significant legislative development, the Illinois House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved Senate Bill 2979, with a vote of 81 to 30, which amends the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) to limit damages to one violation per individual, rather than each instance their biometric information is captured, collected, disclosed, redisclosed, or otherwise disseminated. The bill also amended the definition of “written release” to include an electronic signature.

Last month, we reported on the Illinois Senate’s passage of the bill by a vote of 46 to 13. This legislative move is a direct response to the Illinois Supreme Court’s 2023 decision in Cothron v. White Castle. The Court ruled that under BIPA, a claim accrues each time an individual’s biometric information is captured or collected. This decision highlighted the urgent need for legislative clarity, as White Castle argued that it could face damages exceeding $17 billion if each of its employee’s time clock scans were found to recklessly or intentionally violate BIPA. Recognizing the potential for such devastating liability, the Court called on the Illinois legislature to act.

In its original form, BIPA stated that an individual may be entitled to $1,000 or actual damages for each negligent violation, or $5,000 or actual damages for each reckless or intentional violation. The newly passed bill amends Sections 15(b) and 15(d) of BIPA to state that an “aggrieved person is entitled to, at most, one recovery under this Section.”

Having cleared both legislative chambers, the bill is now headed to Governor Pritzker for his signature.

If you have any questions about how this BIPA amendment may impact your business practices, please do not hesitate to contact your trusted Seyfarth Shaw advisor.