Illinois Supreme Court decides statute of limitations for biometric claims


The Illinois Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, February 2, that individuals have five years to pursue all claims under the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), reversing a lower court decision that had imposed a one-year limit on claims involving publication or disclosure of biometric data.

Five-year limitation period applies to claims under BIPA

In Tims v. Black Horse Motor Carriers, Inc., the Illinois Supreme Court considered the question of whether a one-year or five-year limitations period applied to claims under BIPA, including claims brought under BIPA Sections 15(c) and 15(d) for alleged publication or disclosure of biometric data. (McDonald Hopkins has previously covered this case in September 2021 and February 2022.)

The appellate court had previously decided that these claims were governed by a special one-year limitations period rather than the five-year limitation applicable to the rest of BIPA. Overturning the intermediate court decision in part, the Illinois Supreme Court concluded that one uniform limitations period should govern BIPA. Because BIPA is silent as to the applicable limitations period, and a longer period accomplished the General Assembly’s policy concerns of protecting biometrics, the Illinois Supreme Court held that that uniform limitations period was Illinois’ default five-year catchall.

The Tims decision has significant implications for cases brought under BIPA, not only with respect to whether a particular plaintiff’s claim is still timely, but also with respect to the size of any potential class a named plaintiff may seek to represent. 

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