In a case of first impression, the Seventh Circuit just answered a much-anticipated question about standing in cases filed under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”).  Bryant v. Compass Grp. USA, Inc. decided whether a BIPA plaintiff has Article III standing. The answer is both yes and no.  This dual answer is not surprising given the awkwardness of the arguments presented. Though the holding is a victory for the defense bar, Bryant is the latest evidence of an ever-increasing circuit split that should culminate in the United States Supreme Court further clarifying its holding in Spokeo v. Robins concerning Article III standing.

Like most BIPA cases, the Bryant complaint was originally filed in Illinois state court. The Bryant plaintiff asserted claims under both sections 15(a) and 15(b) of BIPA. The former relates to the defendant’s failure to make publicly available disclosures, and the latter relates to the defendant’s failure to secure the plaintiff’s individual informed consent. The defendant removed the case to federal court. The plaintiff then moved to remand, ironically contending that she lacked a sufficiently concrete injury in fact to maintain Article III standing to maintain federal court jurisdiction. The defendant paradoxically argued that plaintiff alleged such an injury, relying on the Illinois Supreme Court opinion in Rosenbach v. Six Flags Entm’t Corp., wherein the court held that a violation of the right to receive certain information is an actionable grievance. The novelty of these arguments was not because of their substance, but instead, which side advanced them—an observation that Judge Wood noted in her opinion. Siding with the defendant, the district court remanded the case, and the plaintiff appealed.

The Seventh Circuit premised its analysis on the fact that BIPA protects both private and public rights—an observation Justice Clarence Thomas made in his Spokeo concurrence. Once this distinction was drawn, the court had “no trouble” concluding that the plaintiff had Article III standing sufficient to vindicate her private rights as set out in the informed consent requirements of BIPA.

But the same was not true of BIPA Section 15(a) claims relating to duties owed to the public in general. The court held that the plaintiff suffered no particularized injury from alleged violations of this section, and so lacked standing to pursue them in federal court.

The immediate impact of Bryant is the availability of a federal forum for BIPA class action defendants where class certification criteria are typically more stringently applied. Bryant also narrows the scope of these complaints by limiting them to Section 15(b) claims. The significance of the distinction drawn by the Seventh Circuit in Bryant should not be overlooked, given the increased concern over privacy rights in the wake of the COVID‑19 pandemic and litigation that may arise in that context.

The long-term impact of Bryant, however, relates to Article III in general. BIPA litigation is relatively contained to Illinois state courts and will be removed to Illinois federal courts governed by Seventh Circuit precedent. But Bryant is the latest addition to the ever-growing circuit split on whether a bare procedural violation satisfies Article III standing post-SpokeoBryant may have clarified the limited question of whether a BIPA plaintiff has Article III standing, but the opinion adds another log to the Article III fire that only the United States Supreme Court will be able to extinguish.

For more information regarding this article, please contact Rosa Tumialán.

For information regarding Dykema’s Privacy and Data Security Team, please contact Cindy Motley.

To sign up for Dykema’s Privacy and Data Security Blog e-mail updates, please click here.


As part of our service to you, we regularly compile short reports on new and interesting developments and the issues the developments raise. Please recognize that these reports do not constitute legal advice and that we do not attempt to cover all such developments. Rules of certain state supreme courts may consider this advertising and require us to advise you of such designation. Your comments are always welcome. ©2020 Dykema Gossett PLLC.

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Photo of Rosa M. Tumialán Rosa M. Tumialán

Rosa M. Tumialán, a Member in the Firm’s Chicago office, is a litigator who complements her practice with extensive judicial experience gained from clerkships in both the Illinois Appellate Court and the Chancery Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County. Ms. Tumialán…

Rosa M. Tumialán, a Member in the Firm’s Chicago office, is a litigator who complements her practice with extensive judicial experience gained from clerkships in both the Illinois Appellate Court and the Chancery Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County. Ms. Tumialán is a member of the Firm’s Diversity Committee and Financial Review Committee.

Ms. Tumialán focuses her practice on complex commercial disputes, including class action defense and insurance coverage litigation, in both state and federal courts. Ms. Tumialán’s experience in representing clients in what is often a “bet the company” TCPA litigation has made her a lead defense attorney in this area as well as in litigation arising under other consumer privacy statutes such as the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act (“BIPA”). Ms. Tumialán is lauded for her ability to develop and employ unique and aggressive strategies for her clients in these evolving areas. Ms. Tumialán is routinely sought out by companies seeking TCPA and BIPA compliance analysis or those who face TCPA and BIPA liability. She also advises insurers on TCPA exposure and presently serves as national coordinating counsel for insurance clients who rely on her to develop and implement strategies nationwide, which includes daily monitoring of case law developments. She is often asked to opine on BIPA matters and represent clients named in BIPA class actions. Ms. Tumialán has also spoken on this statute which is becoming the latest darling of the plaintiff class action bar.