The proverbial hacksaw inside a prisoner’s birthday cake has been supplanted by a new technological trend for bringing contraband into the jailhouse – Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”). As early as 2015, a fight broke out at the Mansfield Correctional Institution in Ohio when a drone carrying tobacco, marijuana, and heroin crashed into a yard inside the facility. That same year, a drone trafficking hacksaw blades, a cellphone, and Super Glue crashed into a maximum security prison in Oklahoma. Similar plots have been attempted in more than a dozen states nationwide, leading states like North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas to ban drone flights over correctional facilities. Perhaps to save us from another pre-emption fight over UAS operational restrictions, the federal government is now following suit.

On June 7, 2018 the FAA announced temporary flight restrictions over federal correctional facilities and certain U.S. Coast Guard facilities. The inclusion of Coast Guard facilities has no connection to the smuggling concerns faced by correctional facilities. Rather, the addition of Coast Guard facilities is simply an expansion of the FAA’s existing flight restrictions at select national security sensitive facilities that are operated by the Departments of Defense and Energy.

The new restrictions went into effect on June 20, 2018 and prohibit UAS operations between the surface and 400 feet above ground in the vicinity of thirty-three Coast Guard and correctional facilities. The restrictions are in effect 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

The correctional facilities located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. The Coast Guard facilities are in Maryland, Massachusetts, California, North Carolina, Alaska, Florida, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

Failure to comply with FAA and state UAS regulations (including temporary flight restrictions) can lead to significant civil and criminal penalties. Software developers must ensure their products are updated to appropriately avoid these restricted areas, and operators would be wise to check the FAA’s Know Before You Fly app before beginning their missions.

You can reach Husch Blackwell’s experienced team of UAS attorneys by contacting Erik Dullea and Chris Sundberg, who are happy to help your business more effectively utilize UAS technology and stay out of trouble with the FAA.

 

Product Liability Monitor

October 11, 2017
New Developments
America’s Opioid Epidemic: Who Will Be Held Accountable?
By Ally Schwab

In recent years America has seen an increasing number of opioid-involved deaths and is currently experiencing what the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) describes as an “opioid epidemic.” This crisis has been devastating to many communities and individuals, and States are feeling the effect, too. State, county and municipal governments have faced mounting costs in battling this crisis, and some are now taking the fight to the manufacturers and distributors of these drugs. [Continue Reading]

Robots are Becoming a Media Phenomenon—And a Legal Phenomenon, Too
By Eric Krauss

The American public cannot get enough of robots. From science fiction to scientific fact, robotic news and entertainment are part of our daily lives. This past year, at least two television series focused on robots set in the near future (“Westworld” on HBO and “Humans” on AMC) have captured viewers’ imagination, and last week the Blade Runner 2049 sequel opened at theaters nationwide. Indeed, the relationship between people and robotics has been a film subject at least since Fritz Lang’s silent film Metropolis in 1927.  Its continuing popularity reflects our love-hate relationship with automation. [Continue Reading]

Heed the Heeding Presumption
By Alan Hoffman

One of the legacies of the Restatement of Torts, Second, Section 402A published in 1965, is the so-called “heeding presumption.” Section 402A’s Comment j afforded product sellers a presumption that an adequate warning, when given, would be heeded to avoid the risk: “Where a warning is given, the seller may reasonably assume that it will be read and heeded.” However, courts soon began inverting Comment j to create a presumption favoring plaintiffs; i.e., that since they would have heeded an adequate warning, they need not show that the absence of an “adequate” warning caused their injury. Effectively, the heeding presumption shifts the burden to the seller to disprove causation. [Continue Reading]

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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Product Liability Practice

Manufacturers work hard to develop material goods and product designs that are high-quality, safe and durable. We understand your commitment to excellence and commit ourselves to defending you against product liability allegations. Husch Blackwell’s Product Liability team has insight into your industry-specific challenges. [More information]

Product Liability Monitor Archive
September 2017