Peter Syregelas Wins Summary Judgment Ruling In BIPA Coverage Dispute
LPP attorney Peter Syregelas recently won summary judgment in a case regarding insurance coverage under a series of Commercial General Liability (CGL) and Excess/Umbrella policies.
Our client’s insured operated a series of grocery stores in Illinois and utilized a biometric handprint scanner for time tracking purposes. In a pair of class action complaints, the insured’s employees alleged that they were required to provide biometric scans each time they clocked in and out of work. The biometric data was allegedly stored in the insured’s databases and allegedly shared with a third-party vendor. The complaints sought statutory damages of $1,000 for each negligent violation of BIPA and $5,000 for each willful or reckless violation of BIPA, attorneys’ fees and costs, and pre- and post-judgment interest. The insured allegedly had more than 1000 employees that scanned their biometrics countless times.
We filed a declaratory judgment action and asserted various exclusions to coverage under the “personal and advertising injury” coverage parts to the policies. Importantly, the trial court agreed with us that the Recording and Distribution of Material in Violation of Statutes and the Access to and Disclosure of Personal Information exclusions applied to negate any potential for coverage.
The victory is important because it is the first declaration from an Illinois court regarding insurance coverage for BIPA claims in almost 3 years. Recent decisions from Illinois federal courts have reached disparate results on the applicability of the exclusions we relied on, which has led to much confusion in the law. We expect the insured to appeal, and the appeal will provide much needed guidance on these issues from the Illinois courts of review.