September 14, 2023 – Samsung Ordered to Pay $4 Million In Arbitration Fees
An Illinois federal court has ordered Samsung to pay $4 million in individual arbitration fees for more than 35,000 consumers in the state who alleged the company illegally collected their biometric data.
In a 35-page opinion and order, U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber granted Samsung’s move to dismiss the arbitration fee petitions of more than 14,000 people who do not live in the Northern District of Illinois, where the court is located. At the same time, the judge granted petitions for Samsung to pay the fees of 35,651 people who live in the district and whose claims are slated to be resolved through mass arbitration.
Mass arbitration is a relatively new legal mechanism whereby hundreds or thousands of people file individual arbitration claims against a company over the same issue, at the same time. The goal of mass arbitration is similar to that of a class action lawsuit: to resolve a dispute that affects a large number of people who have all allegedly suffered similar damages.
In sticking Samsung with the $4 million arbitration fee bill, Judge Leinenweber wrote that the company was “surely thinking about money” when it baked mandatory out-of-court arbitration for dispute resolution into its terms and conditions.
“The company may not have expected so many would seek arbitration against it, but neither should it be allowed to ‘blanch at the cost of filing fees it agreed to pay in the arbitration clause,’” the judge wrote, describing Samsung’s initial refusal to pay arbitral fees despite insisting that consumers’ disputes be handled in arbitration. “Alas, Samsung was hoist[ed] with its own petard.”
Overall, nearly 50,000 people submitted individual arbitration claims over Samsung’s allegedly illegal collection of biometric data in Illinois, court documents state.
August 24, 2022 – Investigation Closed
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org have decided to close this investigation as they review the information they’ve gathered thus far and determine the proper course of action for Samsung users in Illinois. Stay tuned to this page for any updates, and make sure you’re signed up for our newsletter for the latest in class action lawsuit and settlement news.
The information below was posted when this investigation began and remains for reference only. Our open list of investigations can be found here.
At A Glance
This Alert Affects:
Illinois residents who stored photos on their Samsung Galaxy phones or tablets.
What’s Going On?
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are helping to assemble owners of certain Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets to take action after allegations surfaced that the electronics company is unlawfully collecting and storing facial scans of Illinois residents.
What Am I Signing Up For, Exactly?
You’re signing up to participate in what’s known as “mass arbitration.” Mass arbitration is different than traditional class action litigation, but still allows a large group of people to simultaneously bring claims against a company over the same issue.
What Does This Cost?
It costs nothing to sign up. Plus, if your attorney doesn’t win your claim, you don’t pay.
How Much Could I Get?
There are no guarantees; however, those who sign up could potentially be entitled to as much as $5,000.
If you’re an Illinois resident and you keep photos on yourSamsung Galaxy phone or tablet, it’s possible your privacy rights are being violated.
Allegations have surfaced that Samsung is illegally collecting and storing the facial scans of millions of Illinois residents whose faces appear in photos taken with certain model phones and tablets.
How Is Samsung Allegedly Breaking Illinois Biometric Law?
Samsung has been accused of quietly running sophisticated facial recognition technology in the background of its Gallery app to create face templates (that is, highly detailed maps of individuals’ distinctive facial features) without the consent of the customer, let alone others in the photographs.
Because a person’s facial features, like fingerprints, are unique, Illinois lawmakers enacted a law that requires companies to take certain steps before they can collect this data. It is this law, the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), that Samsung has been accused of violating.
The BIPA states that a company such as Samsung cannot collect, capture or possess an individual’s biometrics – that is, face scans, fingerprints, retina scans, etc. – without first:
Informing the individual in writing that their biometric information is being collected or stored
Informing the individual in writing why and for how long their biometric information is being collected, stored and used
Receiving written consent from the individual
It has been alleged that the company failed to meet all of the above requirements. Samsung has been accused of further violating the BIPA by failing to develop and publish a retention schedule and guidelines for permanently destroying the biometric information.
Is Samsung Facing a Class Action Lawsuit Over the Security Issue?
Yes. At least one proposed class action lawsuit has been filed in Illinois alleging Samsung violated the BIPA when it collected, created and stored facial templates from photos in the Gallery app without users’ consent.
Samsung has argued in the case, however, that consumers cannot bring a class action lawsuit over the alleged biometric violations because they agreed to arbitrate any claims against the company when they purchased and set up their devices.
This is why attorneys have decided to handle the matter on a “mass arbitration” basis.
What Is Mass Arbitration?
First off, normally arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution in which two parties resolve a dispute outside of the courtroom. Instead of a judge or jury ruling on the matter, a neutral third-party arbitrator will decide the case.
Mass arbitration occurs when hundreds or potentially thousands of consumers bring individual arbitration claims against the same company, at the same time and over the same problem – such as this potential biometric privacy violation.
Which Samsung Galaxy Devices Qualify?
Attorneys are specifically looking to hear from people who owned any of the following Galaxy devices:
Galaxy S II
Galaxy S III
Galaxy S6 Edge
Galaxy S7 Edge
Galaxy S20 Ultra
Galaxy S20 FE
Galaxy S21 Ultra
Galaxy S21 FE
Galaxy S22 Ultra
How Much Could I Get?
While there are no guarantees, those who sign up for the mass arbitration could potentially be entitled to as much as $5,000.