HIV Case Going Before Supreme Court Could Affect Privacy Act

One of the cases on U.S. Supreme Court’s docket this fall is  Cooper v. FAA, which addresses whether the 1974 Privacy Act allows individuals to sue for damages from mental and emotional pain, not just financial losses. The case was brought initially by pilot Stan Cooper, whose HIV+ status was shared among the Social Security Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation without his consent. Rather than claim monetary losses, Cooper presented witnesses and documentation to prove psychological harm.

Hayley Gorenberg, deputy legal director for Lambda Legal, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of a number of other LGBT and HIV/AIDS groups, said:

“The language of the statute is clear – the Privacy Act covers ‘actual damages. And what actually happens when the government violates your privacy doesn’t usually hit you in the wallet; it hits you personally. We urge the Court to uphold the full force of the Privacy Act.”

Of course it figures the one time government agencies are actually efficient and reciprocative is when they’re doing wrong by someone.

Images via DB King, Phil Roeder