News & Reviews News Wire BNSF to pay $75 million to settle biometric privacy suit

BNSF to pay $75 million to settle biometric privacy suit

By David Lassen | February 28, 2024

Case addressed gathering of fingerprints, other data by drivers entering intermodal terminals

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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 will pay $75 million to settle a lawsuit over collection of biometric data used to allow drivers to enter its intermodal terminals. David Lassen

CHICAGO — BNSF Railway will pay $75 million to settle a biometric privacy lawsuit in which it was originally assessed a $228 million penalty, only to have that award thrown out on appeal, Reuters reports.

The settlement was originally reported last September, but terms had not been disclosed until a Monday filing in federal court by attorneys for more than 46,000 truck drivers.

A 2022 jury decision had fined the railroad $5,000 for each of the more than 45,000 violations of Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act, which addresses the collection of fingerprint and other data BNSF uses to allow drivers to access its intermodal terminals [see “BNSF ordered to pay $228 million …,” Trains News Wire, Oct. 13, 2022]. But U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kennelly last year, while upholding the verdict, said damages were discretionary and BNSF was entitled to a new trial to determine the amount. The settlement reached in September averted that trial [see “BNSF settles suit …,” News Wire, Sept. 26, 2023].

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