June 27, 2022

Volume XII, Number 178

Advertisement
Advertisement

June 24, 2022

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

Northern District of Illinois Dismisses BIPA Suit Against Canadian App Maker For Lack Of Personal Jurisdiction

The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”) provides a cause of action to a person who believes their biometric information is obtained or disclosed without an individual’s consent.  In Gutierrez v. Wemagine.ai LLP, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14831, the plaintiff brought a putative class action on the part of users of an app created by the defendant, Wemagine.ai LLP in the Northern District of Illinois, claiming that the app obtained and disseminated the biometric information of its users without their written consent.

The hitch, however: the defendant was a Canadian company, and the only contacts it had with the state of Illinois were downloads of its app by users in the state.  The defendant moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), and the court granted the motion.

To obtain personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant, the defendant must have sufficient minimum contacts with the state, and through those contacts, direct its effort towards and purposely avail itself of the benefits and protections of the state.  A growing body of case law, which the court here followed, holds that simply operating an interactive website, without more, does not confer personal jurisdiction over the operator.  The court found, in line with numerous other cases, that personal jurisdiction requires something along the lines of directed marketing, targeted sales and shipping, or business contracts that are related to the subject of the suit.

Here, the defendant operated a website from which users could download their app, regardless of location.  No marketing or sales were directed toward Illinois, and no other activity created a specific connection that could hale the defendant into the state.  Because the plaintiff and the putative class members were the sole connection between the defendant and the state, there could be no personal jurisdiction, and the suit could not proceed in Illinois.

The particular lesson here for companies operating websites and/or offering apps: the more locations you specifically and overtly target with your advertising or sales, the more locations you could be brought into court.  And if you haven’t targeted any locations, raise that issue early and emphatically to avoid litigating in an improper forum.

© Copyright 2022 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLPNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 42
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

About this Author

Jesse Taylor Associate  Columbus complex contract, franchise law, qui tam litigation
Associate

Jesse Taylor practices in state and federal court, with experience in complex contract and franchise law and qui tam litigation.

Prior to joining Squire Patton Boggs, he worked as a litigation associate in another top 20 international law firm. Previously, Jesse served as a law clerk to the Honorable Judith E. Levy, US District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, and to the Honorable James G. Carr, US District Court, Northern District of Ohio. In addition to his law firm experience and clerkships, Jesse worked as the online communications director for the Office of the...

614-365-2714
Kristin L. Bryan Litigation Attorney Squire Patton Boggs Cleveland, OH & New York, NY
Senior Associate

Kristin Bryan is a litigator experienced in the efficient resolution of contract, commercial and complex business disputes, including multidistrict litigation and putative class actions, in courts nationwide.

She has successfully represented Fortune 15 clients in high-stakes cases involving a wide range of subject matters.

As a natural extension of her experience litigating data privacy disputes, Kristin is also experienced in providing business-oriented privacy advice to a wide range of clients, with a particular focus on companies handling customers’ personal data. In this...

216-479-8070
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement