Statutes permitting discretionary attorney fee-shifting for prevailing defendants vary in the circumstances under which fee-shifting is permitted. Two recent cases tackling the question of why and when a lawsuit warrants shifting attorneys’ fees from a prevailing defendant to the plaintiff who brought the claim reflect some of these differences. One case focused on “frivolousness” of the lawsuit, and the other imposed a “bad faith” requirement—despite the absence of such language from the relevant statute. The perceived motivation of the respective plaintiffs and purpose behind the statutes under which the claims were brought were influential.
Class action lawsuits accusing companies of violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”) have more than doubled following a February 2023 ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court, which found, based on a plain reading of the statute, a separate claim accrues each time a person’s biometric identifier is scanned in violation of the statute.