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AIR WISCONSIN AIRLINES CORP. v. HOEPER

Docket No.: 12-315
Argued: December 9, 2013
Decided: January 27, 2014

Topics:

First Amendment, Libel, immunity from suit, probable cause, qualified immunity

PartyNames: Air Wisconsin Airlines Corporation v. William L. Hoeper
Petitioner: Air Wisconsin Airlines Corporation
Respondent: William L. Hoeper

Court Below: Supreme Court of Colorado
Citation: 2012 WL 907764
Supreme Court Docket

Air Wisconsin Airlines Corporation
v.
William L. Hoeper
Background:

The Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA) requires airlines and their employees to report to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) any and all potential security threats to the Nation's air transportation system. To encourage such reports, the ATSA provides a broad grant of immunity from suit, shielding airlines and their employees from all liability, including liability for state-law defamation. 49 U.S.C. § 44941. The only exception to this immunity is for reports made "with actual knowledge that the disclosure was false, inaccurate, or misleading" or "with reckless disregard as to the truth or falsity of that disclosure." Id. § 44941(b).

Consideration Limited:

GRANTED LIMITED TO THE FOLLOWING QUESTION: WHETHER ATSA IMMUNITY MAY BE DENIED WITHOUT A DETERMINATION THAT THE AIR CARRIER'S DISCLOSURE WAS MATERIALLY FALSE.

Question Presented:

1. Whether a court can deny ATSA immunity without deciding whether the airline's report was true. 2. Whether the First Amendment requires a reviewing court in a defamation case to make an independent examination of the record before affirming that a plaintiff met its burden of proving a statement was false.

AIR WISCONSIN AIRLINES CORP. v. HOEPER
ORAL ARGUMENT

December 9, 2013

Listen to Oral Argument in AIR WISCONSIN AIRLINES CORP. v. HOEPER
Holding: REVERSED AND REMANDED
Vote: 6-3
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