Photo of Joseph A. Strubbe

Mr. Strubbe has significant experience in high-stakes complex commercial litigation across many industries, as well as defense of major class action claims and intellectual property matters. Mr. Strubbe’s widespread litigation and counseling experience includes matters involving federal and state environmental issues, covering government and private cost recovery and contribution actions under CERCLA, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) claims, enforcement matters, groundwater contamination claims, toxic tort claims and administrative and private actions. Mr. Strubbe most recently has defended several Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) class actions, was lead trial counsel defending a multinational corporation against trade secret misappropriation claims, served as National Mortgage Fraud Recovery Counsel for one of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders in over a dozen federal cases, and represented a defendant in class action litigation involving the alleged contamination of over 800 private drinking water wells. He has also devoted a significant portion of his practice to the litigation and trial of contract disputes, failed transactions as well as transactional counseling, UCC claims, reinsurance and insurance coverage matters, and negligence and professional malpractice matters.

FingerprintIn yet another blow to employers facing claims under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA” or the “Act”) (740 ILCS 14/1 et seq.), the Illinois Supreme Court held that the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act (“IWCA”) (820 ILCS 305/1 et seq.) does not preempt BIPA claims for statutory damages brought by employees.  The Court’s holding in McDonald v. Symphony Bronzeville Park, LLC, et al. awas not unexpected by most BIPA practitioners, and will likely trigger the resumption of many dozens of BIPA workplace lawsuits which were stayed while the Illinois justices considered the case.
Continue Reading Illinois Supreme Court Eliminates Another BIPA Defense

FingerprintIn the aftermath of two recent appellate court decisions addressing when claims under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA” or the “Act”) (740 ILCS 14/1 et seq.) accrue, it appears likely that the Illinois Supreme Court will need to provide clarity on this critical question. First, the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, found in Watson v. Legacy Healthcare Financial Services, LLC, et al.  that claims under sections 15(a) and (b) of the Act accrue with each and every capture and use of a plaintiff’s biometric identifier or information. Second, in Cothron v. White Castle System, Inc. the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals declined to directly address the issue of when a claim under BIPA accrues, and instead has certified the question for review by the Illinois Supreme Court. While the holding in Watson provides some clarity as to when certain BIPA claims accrue, it leaves open critical questions regarding how to calculate: (i) the number of BIPA violations; and (ii) monetary damages under the Act.
Continue Reading Two Recent Developments Promise to Shed Light on Accrual of BIPA Claims

FingerprintNo Actual Harm Necessary to Assert Biometric Privacy Claims in Illinois

Today the Illinois Supreme Court held that an individual does not need to allege actual harm in order to seek liquidated damages and injunctive relief under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA or the Act) 740 ILCS 14/1 et seq.  In Rosenbach v. Six Flags Entertainment Corp., the Court unanimously found that a plaintiff need only allege a technical violation of BIPA in order to be sufficiently “aggrieved” under the Act.  The Court’s holding today is likely to embolden potential plaintiffs and increase the already considerable number of BIPA-related cases throughout Illinois and the country.
Continue Reading BIPA ALERT: An Opening of the Litigation Floodgates?

In the past few weeks, five putative class action lawsuits have been filed under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”), 740 ILCS 14/1 et seq., targeting defendants in the health care, senior living, commercial baking, meat processing and security industries. These recent suits join previously filed BIPA class actions against day care operators, tanning salons, video game manufacturers, hotel groups and supermarkets as well as much larger entities, including Facebook, Google, Shutterfly, Six Flags and Snapchat. All of these suits have similar allegations at their core; that defendants utilized employees’, customers’, or other persons’ biometric identifiers, such as fingerprints, voiceprints, retina scans or facial recognition technology, in violation of BIPA’s disclosure and consent requirements. All seek recovery of BIPA’s statutory liquidated damages of $1,000 for each negligent violation, or $5,000 for each intentional or reckless violation, injunctive relief, and recovery of attorneys’ fees and costs.

BIPA Background

Until the past 18 months, when the first of these suits was filed, BIPA has been a little-known statute. Enacted in 2008, BIPA was passed to protect against risk of identity theft resulting from the growing use of biometric technology to facilitate financial transactions and security screenings. 740 ILCS 14/5.

BIPA applies to both biometric identifiers, such as fingerprints, voiceprints, retina scans, and facial geometry, and other biometric information based on those identifiers to the extent used to identify an individual. 740 ILCS 14/10. BIPA is an important measure because, unlike such things as Social Security numbers and passwords that can be changed if necessary, biometrics are biologically unique and, when compromised, leave an individual without recourse. 740 ILCS 14/5.
Continue Reading The Rise of Biometric Lawsuits in Illinois