Last Friday, Amazon.com Inc. removed a complaint lodged by one of the company’s shareholders who asked for a court order compelling Amazon to allow the plaintiff’s to inspect certain corporate documents. On the basis of diversity jurisdiction, the case will now proceed in the Western District of Washington where Amazon is headquartered.
The complaint, filed Mar. 18, reportedly follows months of correspondence between the shareholder, Michelle Rosati, and Amazon regarding her demand to “investigate potential wrongdoing occurring at the Company, including potential breaches of fiduciary duty,” as is allegedly her right under Delaware corporate law. In particular, the plaintiff’s concerns relate to whether Amazon violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) and whether it committed antitrust law violations.
The shareholder explained that Amazon has allegedly been developing facial recognition software for years. According to the filing, Amazon purchased International Business Machines Corporation’s (IBM) “Diversity in Faces” dataset, currently the subject of other BIPA litigation, in 2019 to improve its own tools. In its pursuit, Amazon purportedly collected, stored, and used individuals’ biometric identifiers without informing them, in violation of the Illinois law.
Concerning the antitrust allegations, the plaintiff claimed that Amazon leverages third-party seller data to develop its own competing suite of products, then undercuts the third-party on price. The complaint cited investigations by state, federal, and European Union oversight bodies undergirding its suspicion of the company’s wrongdoing. The plaintiff requested that the court order Amazon to produce the books and records demanded and award the plaintiff her costs and expenses, including reasonable attorneys’ fees.