Maschoffs Respond to Federal Class Action Biometric Suit

By Benjamin Cox on December 8, 2021 at 9:12am

A Pike County-based pork producer is denying claims made in a federal lawsuit that it violated state laws about biometric privacy, and it’s also challenging the law itself.

The Journal Courier reports that The Maschoffs argued the description in the legal complaint of its time-tracking system as incomplete or inaccurate in a response filed Friday over a class action suit filed in federal court in Springfield in September.

The company denied biometric data from fingerprints was collected and stored or that it was associated with personal identifying information, as the civil claim maintains. According to the response, the system had been in place with the company since 2017 and none of the members of the class action allegedly express concern about the time-tracking system that used fingerprints as a method to clock in and clock out.

The lawsuit asks for class-action status, which could allow dozens of former and current workers to join it. The Maschoffs LLC asked the court to deny such status, largely on the grounds that it said no one was harmed by use of the time-tracking system. The company said no biometric information was misused or “subject to an improper sale, lease, trade or profit” or “stored, transmitted or protected in a manner deemed to be unreasonable within the relevant industry or subject to safeguards that are less protective than the manner used to protect defendant’s own confidential or other sensitive information.”

In a notice of constitutional challenge to statute filed along with the response, The Maschoffs contends the privacy act is unconstitutional as applied to the class-action suit’s allegations because it says its in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because the statutory damages being claimed are grossly excessive and disproportionate in light of the absence of any actual injury or harm.

The class-action suit is seeking that every instance of collecting, storing or sharing biometric identifiers or information constitutes a violation and should result in $5,000 in damages for each violation determined to be willful or reckless and $1,000 for each violation considered negligent.

The Maschhoffs LLC is headquartered in Pittsfield and has locations in Pike and Cass counties, as well as Carlyle, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri.

A conference on the case is scheduled on January 25th.