James M. Wood: Operation Safe Pilot

James M. Wood: Operation Safe Pilot

Monday, November 7, 2016, at Noon | UC Davis School of Law, Room 1301 | Lunch Provided

Following the September 11 attacks, the FAA undertook an investigation of its licensed pilots. Working with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Transportation, the FAA was able to identify pilots who had misrepresented their health qualifications for licensure. In this cooperative investigation known as Operation Safe Pilot, SSA provided the FAA with the confidential medical records of pilots who had filed disability claims but who had not disclosed the disability to the FAA.This resulted in the indictment of several pilots, including Stanmore Cooper who had not disclosed his HIV status to the FAA. Mr. Cooper ultimately plead guilty to a misdemeanor and then sued the agencies for damages for having violated the 1974 Privacy Act.

Mr. James M. Wood and his team represented Mr. Cooper pro bono in his civil case against the agencies. The case, argued to the United States Supreme Court in Federal Aviation Administration v. Cooper, held that Mr. Cooper’s claim for emotional distress damages for having been outed by the government did not qualify as “actual” damages as used by the Act.

James M. Wood is a Litigation Attorney with over 40 years civil trial, litigation management and pro bono experience as a partner at Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May and at Reed Smith LLP. Passionate about pro bono services, he negotiated a class action settlement on behalf all California public schoolchildren that was affirmed by the California Supreme Court, represented an HIV/AIDS patient which resulted in the first United States Supreme Court decision on damages under The Privacy Act, and achieved rare settlement on behalf of a convicted Pelican State Bay felon for improper medical care.