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On November 30, 2011, the Supreme Court heard the oral argument in Federal Aviation Administration v. Cooper. This case involves the Privacy Act, which governs the manner in which executive branch agencies collect, use and disseminate records containing information about individuals. The Act authorizes an award of money damages to an individual who establishes that government misuse of such records was intentional or willful and resulted in the individual suffering “actual damages.” The question here is whether mental and emotional injuries qualify as “actual damages” under the Privacy Act.
To discuss the case, we have Richard Peltz-Steele, who is an Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts School of Law-Dartmouth.