Case Law Analysis – Tort Laws
Cornelius C. Chase
BUS3021 – Fundamentals of Business Law
Professor Cynthia Geppert
In a defamation action brought by plaintiff-terminated employee, Hoeper, against defendant-airline, Air Wisconsin Airlines Corp, for statements made to the Transportation Security Administration regarding their concerns involving the location of plaintiff's weapon and his stability upon his termination, judgment for plaintiff is reversed and remanded, where: 1) immunity may not be denied under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA) to materially true statements; 2) under the correct material falsity analysis, defendant-airline is entitled to immunity as a matter of law. Keywords: Air Wisconsin Airlines, Transportation Security Administration, and Tort Law Case Law Analysis
Tort is defined as a civil wrong not arising from a breach of contact, a breach of a legal duty that proximately causes harm or injury to another (Cross & Miller, 2012). The law of torts aim is to restore the harmed citizen to the place they were prior to the wrongdoing or before the tort happened to them. The tort system deters companies from putting profits ahead of safety, helps limit the government’s role, and gives average people a way to influence powerful businesses and institutions and change their dangerous practices and policies. In the this case, we discuss the results of an appeal in a tort course case. Respondent Hoeper was a pilot Air Wisconsin Airlines Corp having been employed with the company for an unknown amount of time. When Air Wisconsin stopped flying from Hoeper's home base on aircraft that he was certified to fly, he needed to become certified on a different type of aircraft to keep his job. After Hoeper failed his first 3 attempts at the certification process, Air Wisconsin granted Hoeper a fourth and final assessment. Hoeper failed to do well on the final assessment, and in anger, began raising his voice, using profanity, and accusing the instructor of “railroading the situation.” The instructor called Air Wisconsin and Hoeper was booked on a return flight home later in the day. Several hours later, the manager discussed Hoeper's behavior with other airline officials. Because Hoeper was a Federal Flight Deck Officer, and was allowed to carry a gun on the flight, he might be armed. An airline executive made the decision to notify the TSA of the situation and made the call to the TSA. “During that call, according to the jury, he made two statements: first, that Hoeper "was an FFDO who may be armed" and that the airline was "concerned about his mental stability and the whereabouts of his firearm"; and second, that an "unstable pilot in the FFDO program was terminated today (The Supreme Court of Colorado, 2014)." Based on the phone call, the TSA removed Hoeper from his flight home, searched and questioned him in relation to the location of his gun, and subsequently released him. Hoeper was then booked on a later flight to Denver. The next day, Air Wisconsin terminated Hoeper’s employment. Hoeper sued for defamation in Colorado state court and subsequently Air Wisconsin moved for summary judgment and later for a directed verdict. Air Wisconsin relied on the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA), which” grants airlines and their employees’ immunity against civil liability for reporting suspicious behavior (The Supreme Court of Colorado, 2014).” The trial court denied the motions filed by Air Wisconsin, submitted the ATSA immunity question to a jury. The jury ultimately found for Hoeper in the defamation case. The State Supreme Court affirmed.. The United States Supreme Court held the decision performed by the State Supreme Court. “Sotomayor, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Alito, JJ., joined, and in which Scalia, Thomas, and Kagan, JJ., joined as to Parts I, II, and III-A....
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