BNSF Railway, previously hit with a $228 million jury award for violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) when collecting fingerprints of employees, was recently awarded a new trial to determine damages. Although many cases alleging violations of BIPA have previously been settled, this case was the first to go to trial.
The jury found BNSF recklessly and intentionally violated BIPA 45,600 times when collecting fingerprints of truck drivers. BIPA provides for damages of $5,000 per violation and the jury awarded plaintiffs the full amount of damages under the law. In granting the new trial, the judge agreed with BNSF’s argument that BIPA damages are discretionary and not statutory, and that BNSF was entitled to a new trial so a jury can determine the appropriate amount of damages.