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Court hears dispute between Wisconsin airline, pilot

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Posted: Monday, December 9, 2013 11:29 am | Updated: 11:30 am, Mon Dec 9, 2013.

The Supreme Court is questioning whether a Wisconsin airline can be held liable for reporting one of its pilots as mentally unstable and potentially armed. Federal authorities pulled the pilot off a flight on which he was a passenger, but found no cause for concern.

The justices on Monday heard Air Wisconsin’s appeal of a $1.4 million defamation judgment in the case of veteran pilot William Hoeper. The dispute centers on the immunity Congress promised airlines in a post-9/11 law aimed at encouraging them to report possible security threats.

Three courts in Colorado found that the law did not shield Air Wisconsin from Hoeper’s lawsuit after a jury determined that statements made by an airline official in a report to the Transportation Security Administration were defamatory.

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