Macy’s Secures Temporary Discovery Stay in Clearview AI Privacy Consolidated Lawsuit

On Tuesday, Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez ruled in favor of Macy’s Retail Holdings Inc. by granting its motion for a stay of discovery and denying the plaintiffs’ motion to compel Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(1) disclosures and discovery responses.  Macy’s sought a stay in the case, which disputes the use of facial recognition software, while its motion to dismiss is pending. 

The Northern District of Illinois consolidated action arose out of the consumers’ allegations that Clearview AI Inc. illegally collected and used their sensitive biometric data in violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act and other state and common laws.

Macy’s is one of several defendants in the case. Specifically, the plaintiffs accused the brick-and-mortar and online retailer of using Clearview’s database in order to identify individuals in Macy’s stores.

This week’s order resolves two disputes. One was initiated by the plaintiffs, asking the court to compel disclosures and responses to their outstanding discovery requests, and another by Macy’s asking for a stay of discovery. The decision comes days after the conclusion of dismissal briefing regarding the plaintiffs’ amended class action complaint.

At the outset of her analysis, Judge Valdez noted that stays are often appropriate where the motion to dismiss raises a threshold issue, such as jurisdiction, standing, or qualified immunity. Because Macy’s challenged the plaintiff’s constitutional standing, a potentially-dispositive argument, the court found that a temporary stay of discovery was warranted.

In addition, the court noted that the plaintiffs’ theory which puts Macy’s “in a central role as representative class defendant,” would expose the company to extensive discovery that may prove unnecessary. 

The court concluded by weighing the relative prejudice to the parties, reasoning that “a small delay in discovery while awaiting adjudication of the motion is reasonable.” The opinion determined that a stay would “not unduly prejudice any party and has the potential to streamline the issues and reduce the burden of litigation on the parties and the Court.” 

The plaintiffs are represented by Loevy & Loevy, Bursor & Fisher P.A., Hedin Hall LLP, Neighborhood Legal LLC, Community Lawyers LLC, and Webster Book LLP. Macy’s is represented by Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP.