BELLEVILLE – A St. Louis attorney has defended his move to file two similar class action lawsuits in St. Clair County against Harbor Freight Tools USA over alleged biometric data collection violations.
Attorney Brandon Wise said his decision to file the similar class actions is a move that occurs often. He added that there are no rules barring such actions.
"Sometimes there is a strategic advantage to having multiple cases, and some do overlap," Wise said. "It's allowed, it happens all the time."
Wise, a St. Louis based lawyer with Peiffer, Wolf, Carr and Kane, filed the class action lawsuits on behalf of clients Cassandra Doyle and Skyla Richardson in March and May in St. Clair County Circuit Court.
The lawsuit filed March 5 alleges Harbor Freight Tools USA violated Illinois' Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) when the company collected and stored Doyle's fingerprints. The lawsuit filed May 16 against Harbor Freight Tools alleges similar violations involving the collection and storage of Richardson's fingerprints.
Both lawsuits claim Harbor Freight Tools did not solicit or receive written consent or inform the plaintiffs regarding how long the fingerprints would be stored.
"Plaintiff did not provide consent required by BIPA to the capture, collection, storage, obtainment and/or use of plaintiff's fingerprints or associated fingerprints," both lawsuits state.
Wise told the Record that the class action involving Doyle has been removed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. He said he does not know whether the second case will remain in state court or be removed to federal court.
Wise said he does believe the cases are strong, adding that "all indications are that Harbor Freight" failed to abide by the provisions of BIPA.
Multiple class-action lawsuits alleging biometric privacy have been filed, mostly against employers collecting information on wage and hours. Most are pending, but a number were settled for amounts ranging from $150,000 to $1.5 million, according to a post by the law firm Wilson and Strawn.
Under BIPA, companies that collect information must inform the individual, reveal the purpose, detail the length of time it will be stored and obtain a written release.