Case Study: FAA V. Cooper

Law360, New York (April 6, 2012, 1:30 PM EDT) -- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on March 28, 2012, in Federal Aviation Administration v. Cooper, that “mental and emotional distress” are not “actual damages” for purposes of the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. §552a. Writing for a 5-3 majority (Kagan, J. recused), Justice Samuel Alito interpreted the term “actual damages” in the Privacy Act to be analogous to the term “special damages,” or those which require that a plaintiff prove actual pecuniary loss, and to exclude “general damages” (which encompass nonpecuniary losses and may be...
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