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Volume XIII, Number 87


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Illinois Supreme Court Eliminates Possibility of One-Year Statute of Limitations for BIPA Claims

The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled out the possibility of a one-year statute of limitations for claims under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). Tims v. Blackhorse Carriers, Inc., No. 127801 (Feb. 2, 2023).

In answer to the certified question of whether the limitations period under section 13-201 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure for claims involving “actions for slander, libel or for publication of matter involving the right of privacy” or the five year “catchall” limitations period for personal actions codified in section 13-205 of the Code governs claims under BIPA, the Court found that, because the statute does not have its own limitations period, the “catchall” five-year statute of limitations period must apply.


On January 26, 2022, the Illinois Supreme Court granted leave to appeal the ruling from the Illinois Appellate Court for the First Judicial District that claims brought under sections 15(a), (b), and (e) of BIPA are subject to a five-year limitations period.

As the Illinois Supreme Court articulated in Tims, those sections of BIPA regulate the “establishment, maintenance, and adherence to a retention schedule and guidelines for destroying collected biometric information” (section 15(a)), require “entities to provide notice and obtain written consent before collecting or storing biometric information” (section 15(b)), and regulate “the proper storage and protection of collected biometric information” (section 15(e)).

The First District held that BIPA claims brought under sections 15(c) and (d) of the BIPA are subject to a one-year statute of limitations because publication is “clearly an element” of those claims. Section 15(c) of BIPA prohibits the sale, lease, trade, or profit from a biometric identifier or biometric information. Section 15(d) prohibits the disclosure, redisclosure, or dissemination of a biometric identifier or biometric information without consent.

Illinois Supreme Court Decision

In its ruling, the Illinois Supreme Court opined that the one-year limitations period applicable to “actions for slander, libel or for publication matter violating the right of privacy,” codified in section 13-201 of the Code, does not apply to BIPA claims.

The Court acknowledged “an argument can be made” (as the Illinois Appellate Court for the First Judicial District had found) that claims arising under sections 15(c) and 15(d) of BIPA — which govern the sale, lease, trade, disclosure, redisclosure, and dissemination of biometric information — could be interpreted as “involving publication” and, therefore, fall within the purview of the one-year limitations period in section 13-201 of the Code. However, the clarity of having just one limitations period and accomplishing what the Court said was the Illinois General Assembly’s public policy goals in enacting BIPA (as expressed in the text of the statute) led the Court to apply a single, uniform limitations period with respect to claims arising under all subsections of BIPA.

Therefore, the Court found that the longer, catchall, five-year limitations period should be applied to all BIPA claims to “ensur[e] certainty and predictability.”


In Tims, the Illinois Supreme Court was not asked, nor did it decide, the issue of when a claim under the BIPA accrues. However, on December 20, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (which has jurisdiction over Illinois) certified the question of when claims under sections 15(b) and 15(d) of BIPA accrue to the Illinois Supreme Court in Cothron v. White Castle System, Inc. The Illinois Supreme Court has not yet announced when it will issue its ruling in Cothron.

The impact of the Tims decision, and eventually Cothron, will need to be assessed in pending and new BIPA cases.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2023National Law Review, Volume XIII, Number 34

About this Author

Nadine Abrahams, Jackson Lewis Law Firm, Chicago, Labor and Employment Litigation Attorney

Nadine Abrahams is a Principal in the Chicago, Illinois, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She represents management in employment cases in federal and state courts and before administrative agencies, and she is Co-Leader of the firm's General Employment Litigation practice group.

Prior to joining Jackson Lewis, Ms. Abrahams was a partner with another prominent national labor and employment firm. She previously was Senior Counsel for the Employment Litigation Division of the City of Chicago Law Department. She has been based in...

Jody Mason, Employment Law Litigator, Employer Attorney, Jackson Lewis, Chicago Law Firm

Jody Kahn Mason is a Principal in the Chicago, Illinois, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She is an experienced employment law litigator and defends employers before federal and state courts and administrative agencies throughout the midwest.

Ms. Mason handles all types of single plaintiff and class action employment litigation, including claims of discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation, and matters arising under Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with...

Jackson Lewis Law Firm, Associate, Jason A. Selvey, Labor Employment Attorney

Jason A. Selvey is an Associate in the Chicago, Illinois, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. With an exclusive focus on representing management in workplace law and related litigation, Mr. Selvey defends employers before federal and state courts and administrative agencies throughout the Midwest.

His practice covers a wide range of employment counseling and litigation, including issues such as: discrimination and harassment based on race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin and disability; disability accommodation; retaliation, including retaliatory discharge...

Hannah Griffin Garlough Attorney Jackson Lewis PC Chicago

Hannah Griffin Garlough is an associate in the Chicago, Illinois, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Hannah’s practice focuses on representing employers in workplace law matters.

Hannah has experience litigating restrictive covenant and misappropriation of trade secrets claims on behalf of employers. She regularly defends companies against lawsuits arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). She also offers preventive advice and...