It was a shot heard across the country when a Kentucky man shot a drone out of the sky as it flew over his property in July of 2015. Since then the man was charged with criminal mischief by his local prosecutor, and now is being sued by the drone owner in federal court.
This is just the latest development in the ongoing saga and national debate about how to deal with drones. Given that it is estimated thousands of new drones were given as Christmas presents last year, this issue is not going away. As drones get more complicated, law and policy makers across the country are grappling with their advances.
What Happened in This Case
According to reports, a man was having a backyard barbeque with his daughter and her friend when a drone began flying over his property. The man, fearing for his daughter’s safety, decided to take the issue into his own hands and shoot the drone down. He took his shotgun and with three shots blew the drone out of the air.
Soon after the incident made national news the man was charged with the crime of criminal mischief, but fought the charges. In October of 2015 a judge heard the merits of the case and threw it out. The judge said that the man had every right to shoot the drone out of the air to protect his property rights and family, and now drone enthusiasts in that judge’s jurisdiction are more careful with where they fly their drones.
The owner of the drone was upset with the court’s ruling and decided to take his case to federal court. In a recently filed lawsuit, the man is suing for damages of the destroyed drone, and asking the court to rule that the man had no right to shoot down his drone. According to the drone owner’s argument, the FAA regulates every inch of airspace and therefore private citizens do not have the right to interfere with flying objects over their property.
Florida Laws on Drones
It is not clear how the federal court will rule in this lawsuit, but there is some precedent that holds property owners do own at least a portion of the airspace above their property. Fortunately for Florida property owners, the Florida legislature recently acted to protect Floridians property and privacy rights regarding drones.
Known as the Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act, under new Florida law it is illegal for a drone operator to fly a drone over private property while using a camera. If that does happen, then the property owner can sue the drone owner and recover the damages incurred and attorney’s fees needed to bring the lawsuit.At The Pittman Firm we represent victims of accidents and injuries in the Panama City area. An accident or injury could happen to you in a number of ways, and if it does, you should rest assured that our team of dedicated professionals will be here to help you recover what is just in your case. If you have been injured in an accident, or through some other form of negligence, contact us.