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U.S. Supreme Court rules Air Wisconsin won't pay $1.25M in defamation suit

WASHINGTON D.C. (WTAQ) - Air Wisconsin will not have to pay a $1.25 million judgment in a defamation lawsuit.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that the Appleton-based carrier was protected under a post-9-11 security law. The law shields airlines from defamation claims, when the incidents that trigger those claims are substantially true.

The case involved veteran pilot William Hoeper, who was rejected four times in getting his company's approval to fly a new aircraft -- and then had angry words with another employee in Virginia. Soon after that, Hoeper was a passenger on a United flight to his Colorado home -- and the plane was returned to its departure gate after Hoeper was identified as a potential threat.

He was removed, but was never charged in court with anything criminal.

The Supreme Court agreed that the law is needed in order to encourage reports of possible threats to the Transportation Security Agency.

The Colorado Supreme Court had ruled that Air Wisconsin was not exempt from legal action on that basis.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)