In the first biometric privacy case to go to trial in Illinois, a jury ruled on October 12, 2022 that BNSF Railway violated the privacy rights of 45,600 truck drivers, with damages entered against BNSF totaling $228 million (each driver will receive $5k).
Lead plaintiff Richard Rogers, representing 45,600 truck drivers, sued BNSF after they violated BIPA for scanning fingerprints for identity verification purposes without the written, informed permission or notice required by law when visiting BNSF rail yards to pick up and drop off loads.
The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”)(740 ILCS 14) is a state law that requires informed, written consent before the capture, use and storage of biometric information by private entities. Before this trial and subsequent historic BIPA verdict, no lawsuit under BIPA had ever been heard by a jury.
Jurors stated that BNSF recklessly or intentionally violated the law 45,600 times, which matches the number of drivers who had their fingerprints registered without their consent. Each violation is eligible for $5,000 compensation under BIPA, amounting to $228 million.
“I’m really happy with the verdict today… all I ever wanted was justice for the over 45,000 truck drivers and myself,” lead plaintiff Richard Rogers said at a press conference after the verdict. “[The collection of biometric data] was something that I never felt comfortable with.”
“It really was about efficiency, profits and money for the company,” Jon Loevy said at the press conference. “The jury found it wasn’t just a negligent mistake or a careless mistake, but that [BNSF] acted recklessly or even intentionally.”
Plaintiff Rogers and the certified class have been represented by lead trial attorneys Jon Loevy, Michael Kanovitz, and Gianna Gizzi of Loevy & Loevy, and litigation attorneys Brendan Duffner, Evan Meyers, and David Gerbie of McGuire Law PC. The case is Rogers v. BNSF Railway Co., no. 1:19-cv-03083, in US District Court of Northern Illinois.