The Business Litigation Blog

Supreme Court to Hear Airline Defamation Case

We have written previous posts around the topic of defamation. In the posts, we outlined the guidelines for what constitutes defamation as well as some of the different types of defamation. However, the case we will discuss today is interesting due to certain exceptions made post 9/11.

Following 9/11, the Aviation and Transportation Security Act was drafted, allowing airlines to avoid defamation lawsuits so long as the airlines’ reports did not contain intentional falsehoods.

The lawsuit that the Supreme Court intends to hear was filed by an employee of Air Wisconsin Airlines Group. According to court documents, the employee, William Hoeper, became frustrated during his fourth attempt at passing a training test required to maintain employment. He left the training facility and went to Dulles Airport to fly to his home state of Colorado.

Air Wisconsin Airlines called the Transportation Securities Administration and informed them that a disgruntled Hoeper may have been carrying a gun due to the laws allowing pilots to travel with firearms.

TSA agents removed Hoeper from the flight but allowed him to take another flight that same day upon realizing that he was unarmed. He was fired by the airline the next day.

According to the Colorado Supreme Court the airlines actions constituted “actual malice” and thus the airline did not have immunity from the defamation lawsuit. The defendant was ordered to pay $1.4 million.

The issue for the Supreme Court is whether the court was responsible for the truthfulness of the claims made against Hoeper were true before deciding if immunity applied.

The case is set to be heard during the court’s next term which begins in October.

The Patterson Law Firm has handled many types of defamation claims. In addition to staying current in our knowledge of the changing laws, we also stay abreast of technological trends to ensure our clients receive the highest level of legal representation. If you would like to learn more about our services visit or call 312.223.1699.

Post a comment

Comments closed

Real Time Web Analytics