"Simply because a plaintiff may have suffered an adverse effect" from the privacy violation, argued Feigin, "doesn't mean that the plaintiff suffered actual damages."
Raymond Cardozo, Cooper's lawyer, pointed out during the hearing that his client's information was made public and his name and HIV status are still posted on a federal government database. He also made a larger argument, that his client's dilemma is one that may affect all Americans.
"Congress passed this act to restore the citizens' faith in their government, and it made a solemn promise to the American citizens that in cases of intentional and willful violation, the United States shall be liable for actual damages," Cardozo said. "Today, the government is proposing that "actual damages" be read in a way that renders this act virtually irrelevant. That makes a mockery of that solemn promise."
Cooper attended the public session at the court and expressed optimism afterward he would prevail.
"They've betrayed my trust and I can't get that back," Cooper said at the time. "There was nothing to lose here. I had to do it. It was the right thing to do."
The case is Cooper v. FAA (10-1024).