Judge: Pilot Gets No Compensation For FAA Rights Violation

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A federal judge has ruled that a pilot whose health status was shared by federal agencies cannot sue the government for violating his rights because he did not prove he was harmed financially. The FAA and Social Security Administration shared medical records and personal information on the pilot in 2005 as part of "Operation Safe Pilot." That FAA investigation examined the records of some 45,000 pilots in Northern California, comparing pilot certificates against records of disability benefits. The investigation ultimately led to charges against 40 pilots -- each of whom allegedly defrauded the government with regard to his or her medical status. In this specific case, as a result of the information sharing, the pilot who later brought the lawsuit was charged with three felonies of making false statements to the government and his certificate was revoked. His certificate was reinstated once his medical records were reviewed, but not until after he was made the subject of a disparagingly titled news segment.

While the federal Privacy Act protects individuals from such information sharing, the judge in this case dismissed the pilot's claim for damages, saying the Privacy Act requires proof of economic loss and the pilot's claim was restricted to emotional trauma. The pilot will be appealing the judge's ruling.