In July, Instagram’s parent company Meta Platforms, Inc. (“Meta”) agreed to a $68.5 million class-action biometric privacy settlement in connection with the company’s alleged violation of Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act, 740 ILCS 14/1, et seq. (BIPA).
On March 30, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether a damages class action, is permitted by Article III of the Constitution or Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure where the majority of the class has suffered no actual injury. Notably, this is the first time the Supreme Court will apply the rulings of Spokeo, which held that a plaintiff “cannot satisfy the demands of Article III by alleging a bare procedural violation,” to an entire class. The Supreme Court’s forthcoming decision will have significant implications on defenses to class actions, and could possibly expand liability for companies most often entangled in class actions with plaintiffs that have tenuous claims based only on statutorily created rights of action.
A federal court recently issued a decision approving a class action settlement resolving litigation stemming from five Yahoo! data breaches that occurred from 2012 to 2016 and affected at least 194 million Yahoo! customers. The company agreed to establish a $117.5 million settlement fund and institute numerous business practice changes designed to prevent future data breaches. Of particular interest in the approval order, however, was the Court’s comparison of the instant settlement to a prior in-district data breach settlement. A review of the approval order provides insight into the factors judges analyze to ensure settlements are reasonable, proper, and in the best interests of the class.
Congress passed the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”) with the hope of preventing abuse in class action lawsuits. CAFA assigns jurisdiction to federal courts over class actions where: (i) the aggregate amount in controversy exceeds five million dollars ($5,000,000); (ii) the class comprises at least 100 plaintiffs; and (iii) there is at least “minimal diversity” between the parties (i.e., at least one plaintiff class member is diverse from at least one defendant). In addition, CAFA mandates that courts apply greater scrutiny to class action settlements and, in particular, those involving coupons (i.e., vouchers or other non-cash disbursements which can be redeemed for (typically discounted) products or services).