Air Wisconsin Airlines Corp. v. Hoeper

Case Details

Status: Victory
Docket No: 12-315
NCLC Involvement: Petitioner
Solicitor General Involvement: Neither Party
Sub-Issue:
Sub-Industry: Air Transportation

Related Information

Term: 2013 Term
Oral Argument Date: December 09, 2013
Vote: 6-3
Opinion: Sotomayor

Question(s) Presented

Whether immunity under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act may be denied without a determination that the air carrier's disclosure was materially false.

NCLC's Position

In its brief, the U.S. Chamber urged the Supreme Court to grant certiorari and reverse the Colorado Supreme Court's ruling that the Aviation and Transportation Security Act's (ATSA) immunity for air carriers in reporting potential threats may be denied even without a determination that the air carrier's disclosure was materially false. The Colorado Supreme Court held that airlines can be held liable for reporting potential security concerns without undertaking a sufficient investigation to confirm those suspicions. The Chamber argued that this "investigate first, report later" approach is contrary to what Congress intended when it enacted the ATSA and ignores the primary role of the Transportation Security Administration in investigating these threats. In addition, the Chamber noted that "airlines risk delaying flights and snarling the entire air-transportation network if they keep planes from taking off while their employees conduct a first-level review of a potential threat." Finally, such a rule would chill airline reports "lead[ing] to delayed reports by airlines or no reports at all" with negative consequences for airlines and the traveling public. 

Case Outcome

Immunity under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act may not be denied without a determination that the air carrier's disclosure was materially false because any falsehood in the disclosure would not affect a reasonable security officer’s assessment of a supposed threat.
 

Justices in Majority
Alito
Breyer
Ginsburg
Kennedy
Roberts
Sotomayor
Justices in Minority
Kagan
Scalia
Thomas
Procedural History

Cert. Petition filed 9/11/12. Granted 6/17/13. Decided 1/27/14.

Case Documents