Sometimes judges are persuaded that they made a
mistake. This was one of those cases.
David Johnson (on behalf of himself and similarly situated
individuals), filed a complaint alleging a violation of the Illinois Biometric
Information Privacy Act, against United Airlines, Inc. and United Continental
United had utilized Johnson’s fingerprints to track when he
signed in and out of work while he was employed as a baggage handler at O’Hare
Johnson individually filed his complaint in the Circuit
Court of Cook County, Illinois. United removed the action to federal court
under a theory that the Railway Labor Act (“RLA”) preempted Johnson’s claim and
that the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”) provided the federal court with
jurisdiction. United later moved to dismiss Johnson’s complaint.
The court granted United’s motion to dismiss for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction and entered judgment on July 31, 2018. The court
provided alternative reasons for its holding—that Johnson’s claims were
preempted by the RLA and that he lacked Article III standing. Johnson filed a motion
for relief from judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b)(4) asking the court to vacate
its prior judgment and to remand the case to state court. United filed its own motion
for correction of the court’s order. United’s Rule 60 Motion sought relief solely
on the issue of Article III standing.
As bears on the point of this article, Johnson sought relief
from the court’s order granting United’s motion to dismiss--asserting that the order
was void because the court had lacked subject-matter jurisdiction and was
therefore precluded from rendering judgment. This was a winning argument.
Without jurisdiction a court cannot proceed at all. The
question then became whether the court’s opining on the issue of preemption was
an impermissible judgment on the merits.
The court ultimately denied United’s motion but granted
Johnson’s motion. The court’s order and entry of judgment were deemed void due
to lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The matter was remanded to the Circuit
Court of Cook County.
David Johnson v.
United Airlines, Inc., 2019 WL 1239723 (N.D. Ill., Mar. 18, 2019).
Michael R. LiedHoward & Howard Attorneys PLLCOne Technology Plaza, 211 Fulton Street, Suite 600, Peoria, IL 61602(309) email@example.com