Pilot Stanmore Cooper wants to sue the government for the emotional distress caused when the FAA obtained his medical records from the Social Security Administration, and on Wednesday the case was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. A lower court already has ruled that Cooper's privacy rights were violated, but the Supreme Court will decide whether compensation must be limited to financial losses. Cooper, of San Francisco, was a private pilot until the 1980s, when he was diagnosed with HIV and let his medical lapse. In 1994, he reapplied for a medical certificate, but didn't reveal his diagnosis for fear he would be denied. The certificate was revoked after the FAA checked the medical records. Cooper pleaded guilty to a charge of making a false statement and was fined $1,000.
Raymond Cardozo, Cooper's lawyer, said his client's name and HIV status are still posted on a federal government database. "I chose not to reveal my HIV infection [to the FAA] and that was a very bad thing," Cooper said, according to CNN. "I took responsibility for it and I paid the price. I was punished. And I think now it's the government's turn to own up to breaking the law and take responsibility for what they did." The court ruling is not expected until sometime next year.