WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will review a $1.24 million defamation judgment against a Wisconsin airline that reported one of its pilots as mentally unstable and caused him to be arrested.
The justices said Monday they will hear an appeal from Air Wisconsin that claims it is shielded under federal law from the defamation claims of veteran pilot William Hoeper.
Hoeper’s job was in jeopardy after he failed for a fourth time to win airline approval to fly a new aircraft and had an angry exchange with another employee at a Virginia training facility.
Later that day, Hoeper was a passenger on a United Airlines flight to Denver that was ordered to return to its gate after Air Wisconsin identified Hoeper as a potential threat to the Transportation Security Administration. He was removed from the plane, searched and questioned, but never charged.
He filed a defamation lawsuit against the airline in Colorado, where he lives. A jury found that statements airline officials made about Hoeper were defamatory.
Air Wisconsin said the lawsuit should have been dismissed because of a broad grant of immunity to airlines that report potential security threats under the Aviation Transportation Security Act, passed after the September 11 attacks.
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the airline was not shielded from the lawsuit and upheld the verdict.
The Obama administration joined the airline in calling for Supreme Court review and reversal of the Colorado court decision. The administration said that upholding the verdict against Air Wisconsin would discourage other airlines from reporting potential security threats to TSA.
The case is Air Wisconsin v. Hoeper, 12-315.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
The students on the school bus were not injured.
The time seems to come each year when Operation Holiday finds itself in dire need of your help.
A family missing in the remote mountains of northern Nevada since Sunday has been found alive.
New survey finds many people are confused about how to fight the flu.
A woman in Georgia says she wants answers after an apparent prank in restroom left her with serious injuries.
Cameron Rodriguez of Southwestern College will be allowed to retain his winnings from a half-court shot during a National Basketball Association halftime promotion.
Bill Guy, Reno County Emergency Management Director, says Kansas Gas has spilled some mercaptan.