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Sup. Ct. Takes on Case of Pilot Who Had HIV Status Revealed

Sup. Ct. Takes on Case of Pilot Who Had HIV Status Revealed


The Supreme Court Wednesday heard statements from Stanmore Cooper, a pilot who sued the Federal Aviation Administration after it revoked his pilot's license in the wake of discovering he is HIV-positive.

Justices including Antonin Scalia appeared unsold on the San Francisco pilot's claims that the FAA violated the 1974 Privacy Act and caused him emotional distress by uncovering his HIV status. Courts have been split over whether damages related to the Privacy Act can include claims for mental distress.

In 2002, FAA officials became aware that an unidentified pilot had hidden his positive status. After checking records, they discovered a Bay Area pilot applied for Social Security benefits in 1995 because he was HIV-positive -- they discovered that when the pilot was renewing his license to fly the previous year, he didn't disclose his condition to the FAA (possibly out of fear it wouldn't grant him the license). After the FAA became aware of the pilot's actions, it revoked his license and charged him with making false statements to the government; he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and ended up paying $1,000.

U.S. District judge Vaughn Walker -- who declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional in 2010 -- ruled against the pilot's emotional distress claims. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with Walker. Read the full story here.

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