Businesses Win Twice Before Supreme Court to Reduce Liability
Companies won two unanimous U.S. Supreme Court rulings, averting what may have been billions of dollars in new liability. The court today gave airlines greater immunity from lawsuits when they report potential security threats, throwing out a jury verdict won by an Air Wisconsin pilot. The justices also ruled for U.S. Steel Corp. (X) by saying companies, in many cases, don’t need to pay workers for time spent putting on and taking off safety gear. In the airline case, the court decided companies can’t be sued when they report threats to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), as long as the information the carriers provide is “materially true.” The justices overturned a $1.4-million award won by pilot William L. Hoeper, who sued the airline for telling federal officials as he was preparing to board a flight that he was “unstable” and possibly armed. The Obama administration supported the airline industry’s position. In the wage case, the justices ruled the U.S. Steel employees are bound by their collective bargaining agreement, allowing payment only for time at their work stations.