Supreme Court Rules Airline Immune from Liability in Defamation Case

Pilot accused bosses of making false statements about him suggesting he was unstable


The US Supreme Court on Monday reversed a $1.2 million jury award to a fired airline pilot who claimed his former boss made recklessly false statements about him to federal security officials.

The decision stems from a 2004 incident in which the pilot was escorted off a commercial flight by armed officers and detained by Transportation Safety Administration officials after his boss at Air Wisconsin told the TSA that the employee was mentally unstable, that he might be armed, and that he had just lost his job.

The pilot-employee, William Hoeper, was upset because he had just failed a flight test and knew he was likely to lose his job with the airline, but he maintained he was no threat to anyone.