Aviation Legal Case, United States Federal Laws


United States Federal Laws are having critical consequences on damages due to mental or emotional distress. Defendants lack immunity on the cases that would cause damage on the American nation. Cooper is a pilot since 1964 and has a good reputation on his flights. Medical reports in 1985 revealed Cooper that he has Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) but withheld the information from the public and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) because he would lose the job. The case was argued in November 30, 2011. Facts, issue, rule, application and conclusion are part of the discussion that will end by opinion on the case decision.


Cooper is an employee of Federal Aviation Administration working as a pilot. Federal Aviation Administration being a government agency that ensures safety of the pilots under the Federal Aviation Act. The medical condition of Cooper become worse in 1995 and made a decision of applying for long-term disability benefits. Cooper disclosed his HIV condition under the Social Security Act believing that the Social Security Administration would not disclose the information as stipulated in the Privacy Act. The Social Security administration got concerned on the issues of renewal of medical certificates with a medical condition. Social Security Administration launched an investigation with the Department of Transportation on unconstitutional ways of renewal of medical certificates. The investigation led in transfer of Cooper’s case to the Federal Aviation Administration for filing a case in court.

On the other hand, Cooper filed a case in court accusing the Social Security Administration of violating the Privacy Act in acceptance of sharing the personal medical information without the consent of the owner. The disclosure of information resulted in embarrassment, emotional distress, and mental anguish of Cooper’s social life. The Plaintiff (Cooper) is not likely to recover from the damages because emotional and mental harm does not have similar considerations as economic loss. The district court claimed that the government had violated the Privacy Act but the findings on the actual damage are ambiguous. According to the Ninth Circuit, actual damages also include emotional and mental distress.


The issue in the case of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) versus Cooper is on the validation of emotional and mental distress as part of actual damages. Cooper was not happy on the final decision of the District court hence making a decision of appealing in the Ninth Circuit. The reverse of the case to the district court did not please Cooper since the court’s decision got basis on the claim that the statutory meaning of the act is ambiguous. The arguments on explanation of the term “actual damages” lead in appealing the case to the Supreme Court for clarity. Supreme Court dismissed the ruling of the Ninth Circuit claiming the Ninth Circuit has chameleon-like quality in interpreting definitions. Cooper has an aim of receiving a sum of $1,000 from the government agency for violation of Privacy Act.

The congress intended to divert the meaning of “actual damages” to mean “special damages.” The special damages have limitations on the pecuniary loss and results in failure on the case file on violation of Privacy Act. Supreme Court did not agree on making an on Cooper for emotional and mental distress. The federal government does not have waivers and immunity on liabilities from such harms. The court denied the petition on the Cooper but granted the petition on the government in the review process of creating a civil remedy. The court identified the intention of Cooper in seeking monetary compensation hence making a decision that the government has immunity on the recovery process.


The language on the Privacy Act favoured the government even after disclosure of the private medical information. The damages of Cooper denied him the chance of proceeding with the case leading in making a decision on the expansion of the view of Privacy Act. Current status of the privacy act may lead in the creating liabilities of the government through increase in litigation costs. Non-pecuniary harms are difficult to prove under the court of law leading for expensive procedures that the court would not like to undergo in the case of FAA versus Cooper. The interpretation of the statute law would lead in stigmatization of the people with HIV. HIV leads in emotional and mental distress. Government should be potentially liable for the damages after exposing the status of the medical condition of an individual to the public.

The impact of Privacy Act violation would lead in the increase of lawsuits leading in increase of the damage awards. Lack of expression of sovereign immunity led in ambiguity of the case in favour of the government immunity. The ambiguity scenario favours the government in dismissing money for the damages of Privacy Act. Cooper acceptance of the damages for withholding the medical status from Federal Aviation Administration led in two years sentencing and a fine of $1, 000. The compensatory damages have no prove from the Privacy Act since the Plaintiff recovers from emotional and mental distress. The court decision is on the protection of the Privacy Act from facing frustrations on the lawsuits present in courts.


The decision of the court gets basis on the Justice Alito giving the mandate on the Social Security administration of preserving all the confidential records from access by the government agencies. The decision was in accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974. The United States federal government made a decision of taking charges on actual damages of mental and emotional distress upon occurrence. The Federal Aviation Administration checks the compliance of medical standards of all the pilots. The pilots should disclose any disability, surgery or illness upon renewal of the medical certificate. Stanmore Cooper did not receive the waiver because the condition was not unequivocally expressed. The intentional refusal of complying with the act results to penalties of not less than $1,000.

Illegal surveillance and investigation are over viewing the Privacy Act 4 of 2010. Information is crucial in filing a complaint after court decision. The recovery process of emotional and mental distress will encompass actual damages. Cooper should maintain his observation on the Privacy Act and should seek relief for the actual damages. Monetary judgment is not the solution for emotional damages. The disagreement on the term “actual damages” made the case favour the federal government and made Cooper unable to recover from the Act. A big trouble emerged from the final decision of the court leading in large damages on the complainant.


Court decisions are from personal understanding of the law hence creating disagreements among district courts, appeal courts, and Supreme Courts. FAA v. Cooper case file determines the civil remedies upon provision of the Privacy Act. Individuals that fail to comply with the provision of the Acts have adverse effects.



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