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HL Chronicle of Data Protection Privacy & Information Security News & Trends

Tag Archives: mental distress

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Supreme Court Holds Privacy Act Recovery Only Available When There is Economic Loss

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court in FAA v. Cooper held in a 5-3 decision that the “actual damages” clause in the Privacy Act is not sufficiently clear to authorize the recovery of non-pecuniary damages, such as for mental or emotional distress. While the Court acknowledged that the term “actual damages” is “sometimes understood to include nonpecuniary harm” and that such a reading is not “inconceivable,” it concluded that the term was not sufficient to overcome the sovereign immunity canon of statutory construction, which requires “an unmistakable statutory expression of congressional intent to waive the Government’s immunity.”