Court hears dispute between airline, pilot

CREATED Dec. 9, 2013

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court is questioning whether a Wisconsin airline can be held liable for reporting one of its pilots as mentally unstable and potentially armed. Federal authorities pulled the pilot off a flight on which he was a passenger, but found no cause for concern.
   
The justices on Monday heard Air Wisconsin's appeal of a $1.4 million defamation judgment in the case of veteran pilot William Hoeper. The dispute centers on the immunity Congress promised airlines in a post-9/11 law aimed at encouraging them to report possible security threats.
   
Three courts in Colorado found that the law did not shield Air Wisconsin from Hoeper's lawsuit after a jury determined that statements made by an airline official in a report to the Transportation Security Administration were defamatory.