Personal Jurisdiction Challenges in BIPA Class Actions

Bloomberg Law Professional Perspectives

Potential exposure to lawsuits alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) has increased in the wake of the Illinois Supreme Court's seminal decision in Rosenbach v. Six Flags Ent. Corp., 129 N.E.3d 1197 (Ill. 2019), but personal jurisdiction has emerged as key defense for defendants.

Several district court opinions underscore the efficacy of the personal jurisdiction defense in BIPA class action litigation, and a recent case—Stein v. Clarifai, Inc., 2021 BL 94464 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 16, 2021)—provides important takeaways for out-of-state defendants with negligible connections to Illinois.


Jordan Stein, an Illinois resident, sued New York-based technology company Clarifai after learning that it had accessed her profile pictures from OKCupid, a dating website. Stein alleged that Clarifai built its database of facial recognition templates by scanning biometric information contained in her profile photos and those of other OKCupid users. Stein asserted claims for violations of BIPA Sections 15(a), (b), and (c).

Clarifai filed a motion to dismiss on grounds that it was not subject to personal jurisdiction.

The court granted the motion and dismissed the action without prejudice. Because Stein failed to show that Clarifai had targeted Illinois or its residents in any way, or that Clarifai had otherwise developed any relationship with Illinois, the court held that it lacked specific personal jurisdiction over Clarifai.

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“Personal Jurisdiction Challenges in BIPA Class Actions,” by David J. Oberly was published in the April 2021 edition of Bloomberg Law Professional Perspectives, a publication of The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc.