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Thread: SCOTUS rules for Air Wisconsin in pilot's defamation, "unstable & armed", claim.

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    SCOTUS rules for Air Wisconsin in pilot's defamation, "unstable & armed", claim.

    "Hoeper used to work for Air Wisconsin as a pilot. He failed a simulator test (he says it was rigged — though that isn’t relevant to this discussion) and was told he fired. He became belligerent as a result. Air Wisconsin booked Hoeper a flight home on United Airlines. But the Air Wisconsin folks were concerned — they knew that Hoeper was a Federal Flight Deck Officer. FFDOs are pilots who are authorized to carry weapons in flight. They also knew he was angry. So they called TSA and alerted them to the fact that Hoeper was an FFDO who might be armed and that they were concerned about his “mental stability.” Not unreasonably, TSA ordered Hoeper off the plane.[my emphasis]"

    http://www.lawfareblog.com/2014/01/a...nsin-v-hoeper/

    "He was removed from the plane by armed police officers and asked about his gun — properly locked up at home — while his luggage was emptied on the jet bridge.

    TSA eventually determined Hoeper was not a threat, but he said he was so embarrassed by the incident that he took a later flight rather than re-board the delayed plane that was still sitting at the gate. "

    http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions...2-315_j5fl.pdf

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    Last edited by Nightmare; 01-27-2014 at 12:32 PM.
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    Didn't read the opinion (so it may have been addressed in there) but I'm curious why it wasn't brought up that he was an FFDO upon termination prior to sending him on his way to his flight.

    I used to work for ZW back in the day (as a counter and ramp agent, not as a pilot). Surprised I didn't hear about this one before now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jgillmanjr View Post
    Didn't read the opinion (so it may have been addressed in there) but I'm curious why it wasn't brought up that he was an FFDO upon termination prior to sending him on his way to his flight.

    I used to work for ZW back in the day (as a counter and ramp agent, not as a pilot). Surprised I didn't hear about this one before now.
    Excellent question. I must wonder if he wasn't being "set up."

    BTW, there is a link to the decision in the OP. Thanks for that.

    The decision was unanimous, except in part. It is based on the fact that the airline said nothing "materially false" in their report. Defendant just claimed that they should have investigated further before making the report. The Court held that the lack of material falsity provided absolute immunity to the airline for the report and that reporting without hesitation, even when based on incomplete information, was the intent of the immunity clause in the law.

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    The court held that using the incorrect words did not warrant the loss of immunity. The dissent, I think, got it right. Words mean things and witnesses at the trial level testified that the perp was not mentally unstable as was related to the TSA. The wrong words being used made the TSA think one way when the correct words would have made them think a different way. These facts were completely ignored in favor of the state, visa vis the airline.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OC for ME View Post
    The court held that using the incorrect words did not warrant the loss of immunity. The dissent, I think, got it right. Words mean things and witnesses at the trial level testified that the perp was not mentally unstable as was related to the TSA. The wrong words being used made the TSA think one way when the correct words would have made them think a different way. These facts were completely ignored in favor of the state, visa vis the airline.
    I was thinking the same thing. When it comes to...making statements to the TSA that can lead to this sort of action, you should make damn sure that you are as specific as possible with you're wording. If such a standard wasn't upheld, what prevents the harassment of individuals by making factually ambiguous statements?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jgillmanjr View Post
    I was thinking the same thing. When it comes to...making statements to the TSA that can lead to this sort of action, you should make damn sure that you are as specific as possible with you're wording. If such a standard wasn't upheld, what prevents the harassment of individuals by making factually ambiguous statements?
    That's the point. That is the point of immunity for industry voices and immunity for the TSA; immunity for subjective good faith efforts however wrong headed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OC for ME View Post
    The court held that using the incorrect words did not warrant the loss of immunity. The dissent, I think, got it right. Words mean things and witnesses at the trial level testified that the perp was not mentally unstable as was related to the TSA. The wrong words being used made the TSA think one way when the correct words would have made them think a different way. These facts were completely ignored in favor of the state, visa vis the airline.
    While I would have used the word "upset," and believe that "mentally unstable" was hyperbolic, making those calls as to the appropriateness of the exact wording is the reason we have judges and juries, because the law cannot cover every possible nuance of the language.

    I would say that the judgment of the jury was reasonable and that the decisions of all the judges and justices involved were, even though in disagreement, reasonable.

    It's kinda like appeals in football now. They have three possibilities, confirmed, upheld, and overruled. The middle ground is a recognition that there can be legitimate disagreement in judgment calls. In football, if there is that reasonable disagreement, the go with the field official and "uphold" the decision. In the courts, if there is that reasonable disagreement, they go with the judgment of the higher court.

    Anyway, this case was reversed and remanded. It will be heard again in light of the high court's take on the immunity in the law.

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    SCOTUS got another one wrong again.

    The court goes off the cuff and says "well, lots of people want to take back what they said" or something similar.

    The airline told the TSA that the guy was crazy basically. What is defamation all about? What people say about you, duh...there are no "take-backs" in defamation suits or "sorry".

    Now the court has said that it does not matter what an airline says when contacting the TSA .. exaggerations, all okey-dokie to the court..

    The question before us is whether ATSA immunity may be denied under §44941(b) without a determination that a disclosure was materially false. We hold that it may not. ... court opinion

    I think that the jury verdict equals a finding that the disclosure was false....
    Last edited by davidmcbeth; 01-27-2014 at 06:00 PM.

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    Is this maybe just a case of the wrong law being used to seek redress from the airline?
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

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    I think it is a case of getting a judge to toss the suit on the grounds that the ATSA (federal law) provides immunity. A jury disagreed with the immunity claim. A appellate court, agreed with the jury, the state supremes agreed with the appellate court. The SCOTUS nixes all of those.

    SCOTUS focused on the words used that lead a reasonable TSA goon to do one thing. The airline goons used words that were materially untrue, given the testimony, and SCOTUS knew this, yet decided otherwise. The airline goons could have and should have used more better words. Not doing so should not relieve them of liability for what they got the TSA to do to the claimant.

    It may be/could be proven that the "environment" at the airline lead to a intentional set of words used to accomplish a goal, never know I guess. Being in big business, I know that top brass will not expose themselves to legal peril by popping off at the mouth. They would be very careful in their wording to mitigate risk. Unless of course the popping off was calculated to make them look like buffoons so as to plead the "nitwit not to be held accountable card."

    SCOTUS basically lets the airline goons off for being nitwits.

    My reading of the facts, that the SCOTUS included in their "opinion", clearly meet the burden in the ATSA, could be wrong cuz SCOTUS has opined otherwise. Anyway, SCOTUS has told the lower court(s) to give the airline goons a second chance. The TSA goons are off the hook (were not ever on the hook I think) as they should be.

    6 - 3 decision.....SCOTUS screwed the pooch again. Roberts, and Alito, vote to protect a bogus fedlaw that has run its course and should be scrapped, and not liberty. Even Kagen gets it right

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