FAA v. Cooper Case Brief

Facts of the Case

A pilot, who contracted the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in 1985, applied for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical certificates in 1994, 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2004 without disclosing his HIV status or his medications. He was charged with making false statements to a U.S. Government agency, in violation of 18 U.S.C.S. § 1001, after the Social Security Administration (SSA) disclosed his HIV status to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). After he pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to two years’ probation and fined $1,000, he sued the FAA, the DOT, and the SSA, claiming that the SSA’s unlawful disclosure of his confidential medical information caused him mental and emotional distress.


Was Gary Jones put in double jeopardy when he was tried as an adult after an adjudication hearing in juvenile court?


“No. In a 5-3 decision written by Justice Samuel Alito, the Court held that the Privacy Act’s “actual damages” provision only allowed Cooper to recover for proven pecuniary or economic harm. Justice Alito cited the Court’s rule that legislatures must unequivocally express waivers of sovereign immunity, and that any ambiguities in the statutory text must be construed in favor of immunity. He investigated the use of the term “actual damages” in various federal statutes, determining that it does not have a consistent legal meaning. Justice Alito inferred that congress may have intended “actual damages” to refer to pecuniary damages