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"You Like 'To-May-Toe,' I Like 'To-Mah-Toe'" – Distinctions Without a Material Difference: Supreme Court Reverses Lower Court Rejection of ATSA Immunity

01/30/2014

In the wake of September 11, the U.S. Congress enacted the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA), which among other things requires airlines to report suspicious behavior to the TSA and gives them immunity from civil liability for such reports except under limited circumstances. This Alert explores the Supreme Court's January 27, 2014 decision in Hoeper v. Air Wisconsin Airlines Corp., in which it reversed the Colorado Supreme Court's affirmance of a $1.2 defamation verdict based on such a report to the TSA, and clarified that (1) ATSA immunity cannot be denied without a finding that a report is materially false, and (2) airlines must be given substantial leeway in the language they choose for such a report. The Court's decision is an important one not only to carriers, but to the safety of air transportation as a whole.

Please click here to read the full Alert.