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

The events of September 11 were by no means the first examples of terrorism involving aviation, but they unified the U.S., if not the world, in its effort to make air travel safer. It was in the wake of 9/11 that Congress enacted the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA), pursuant to which the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created. Among its provisions, the ATSA gave airlines immunity against civil liability for reporting suspicious behavior in an effort to ensure that the TSA would be informed of potential threats.

On January 27, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Air Wisconsin Airlines Corp. v. Hoeper, in which it relied upon the ATSA’s immunity provision to reverse a $1.2 million defamation verdict against Air Wisconsin Airlines Corp. This decision represents a major victory for air carriers, and the safety of air travel as a whole. The decision is especially welcome in the wake of the Supreme Court’s disappointing decision not to grant certiorari in Alaska Airlines, Inc. v. Eid,2 which involved the Tokyo Convention’s provision of immunity to a Captain’s actions to ensure the safety of an aircraft during international operation.

Please see full alert below for more information.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.