News & Reviews News Wire BNSF settles suit over biometric data

BNSF settles suit over biometric data

By Trains Staff | September 26, 2023

| Last updated on February 27, 2024

Terms not disclosed in case that initially saw railroad hit with $228 million judgment

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Trucks and containers at intermodal yard
Trucks navigate the stacks of containers at BNSF Railway’s Logistics Park Chicago in Elwood, Ill., in August 2021. BNSF has settled a suit regarding the gathering of fingerprint information from truck drivers at its Chicago-area intermodal facilities. David Lassen

CHICAGO — BNSF Railway reached a settlement last week in a biometric data privacy case in which it had initially been assessed a $228 million penalty, only to have that award thrown out on appeal.

Reuters reports that the railroad reached a settlement with a group of truck drivers over claims that BNSF illegally collected their fingerprints. U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kennelly did not reveal terms of the settlement in the Sept. 18 filing, but set an Oct. 20 deadline to present final terms for review.

A 2022 jury decision fined the railroad $5,000 for each of 45,600 violations of Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act, which addressed the collection of fingerprint and other biological data [see “BNSF ordered to pay $228 million …,” Trains News Wire, Oct. 13, 2022]. The railroad used the data to allow drivers to access its intermodal terminals. But earlier this year, Kennelly — while upholding the verdict — said damages were discretionary and said BNSF was entitled to a new trial on the amount of damages [see “BNSF’s $228 million penalty … thrown out,” News Wire, July 1, 2023].

The settlement vacates the trial on damages that was scheduled to begin Oct. 2.

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