Biometric Claims Subject to Five-Year Statute of Limitations Under Illinois BIPA
The Supreme Court of Illinois recently resolved an outstanding and hotly debated question – claims brought under the Illinois Biometric Information and Privacy Act (BIPA) are subject to a five-year statute of limitations. The Court, in Tims v. Black Horse Carriers, Inc., determined that Illinois’ “catch-all” five-year limitations period applied, as opposed to the one-year statute of limitations applied to claims for libel, slander and the “publication of matters violating the right to privacy.”
Prior to the decision, the trial court in Tims determined the five-year statute of limitations applied. The intermediate appellate court overturned, holding that two separate limitations periods applied BIPA claims: five years for claims under section 15(a), (b) and (e), and one year for claims under section 15(c) and (d).
The Illinois Supreme Court then clarified the five-year statute of limitations would apply to all BIPA claims. It reasoned that the law favored having a uniform limitations period, the legislative intent and policy of BIPA was better served through a longer limitations period, and statutes that do not include a specific statute of limitations are subject to the five-year statute of limitations.
While this decision brings clarity, it also solidifies that a longer limitations period will apply to all BIPA claims. Employers should audit their technologies for use of biometrics and also review their relevant privacy policies and procedures to ensure compliance with all of BIPA provisions, particularly because these claims are often subject to class action litigation.