- - Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the federal government cannot be sued for emotional distress after two agencies improperly shared a man’s medical records detailing his HIV status.

“We hold that the Privacy Act does not unequivocally authorize an award of damages for mental or emotional distress,” said Justice Samuel Anthony Alito Jr., who wrote the 5-3 opinion throwing out Stanmore Cooper’s lawsuit. “Accordingly, the act does not waive the federal government’s sovereign immunity from liability for such harms.”

The San Francisco man, who is HIV-positive, disclosed that information to Social Security officials to receive medical benefits, but withheld it from the Federal Aviation Administration. During a criminal investigation involving pilots’ medical fitness to fly, the Social Security Administration gave the FAA the medical records of some 45,000 Northern California residents who applied for licenses.

The FAA was investigating whether pilots were using one set of doctors to certify their fitness to fly while applying to Social Security for disability payments and using other doctors to support claims of illness and injury.

CALIFORNIA

Campaign treasurer to plead in fraud case

SACRAMENTO — The Democratic campaign treasurer at the center of the largest political embezzlement case in California history will enter a plea to federal felony charges on Friday.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a hearing notice late Wednesday in the case against former treasurer Kinde Durkee. It says her attorney, Daniel Nixon, has agreed to the plea hearing. He did not return telephone messages seeking comment.

Ms. Durkee is accused of embezzling more than $7 million from at least 50 political candidates and committees in a scheme that officials say lasted more than a decade. She is accused of transferring hundreds of thousands of dollars among the more than 700 bank accounts she controlled to pay for everything from visits to Disneyland to her mother’s care in a seniors’ home

SENATE

Sen. Brown transferred to Pentagon National Guard

BOSTON — Republican Sen. Scott P. Brown has transferred out of the Massachusetts Army National Guard to a unit in Maryland, allowing him to work in a major position at the National Guard’s Pentagon office.

Mr. Brown told the Boston Globe he requested to be moved out of Massachusetts because the focus of news organizations and national Democrats on his National Guard record made it untenable to continue serving here. He was promoted to the rank of colonel in November.

Mr. Brown, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, is now the assistant to Col. Christian Rofrano, the chief counsel of the National Guard Bureau. Mr. Brown’s new duties require him to work two full days a month and up to two weeks during the summer, a schedule that applies to all National Guard members.

Mr. Brown has served in the National Guard for 33 years.

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