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.
Continue Reading FAA Adds to No-Fly Zones for Drones After Prisoners Smuggle Drugs, Weapons Through the Skies

February 8, 2017
New Developments
Autonomous Vehicle Technology Regulation In the Trump Administration
By Eric B. Krauss
Last autumn President Obama revealed his administration’s plan for autonomous driving technology. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) published fifteen guidelines in September, 2016, that were almost widely lauded as striking the right balance between safety and

August 9, 2016
New Developments
GM’s Ignition Switch Litigation Woes Continue
By Shannon Peters

“Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in.” That must be what GM’s executives (and counsel) were thinking when the Second Circuit handed down its recent decision overturning portions of the 2015 Bankruptcy Court decision that could have

June 7, 2016
New Developments
Driverless Cars and the Law
By Mark Pratzel

As driverless car technology evolves, questions continue to arise regarding its legal repercussions. Google, one of the leading forces behind autonomous cars, predicts that they will be available to the public by 2020.  Nissan and Tesla are also developing self-driven car technology.  And

In Sikkelee v. Precision Airmotive Corp., 45 F.Supp.3d 431 (M.D. Pa. 2014), a wrongful death suit arising from the crash of a Cessna 172 claiming defects in the carburetor of its Lycoming engine and the related manuals and instructions, the plaintiff alleged that Lycoming violated various design requirements for the engine type certificate, and failed to report failures, malfunctions or defects as required by the Federal Air Regulations. The District Court applied Abdullah v. American Airlines, 181 F.3d 363 (3d Cir. 1999), which held that the Federal Aviation Act preempts the entire field of aviation safety and that federal standards govern the safe operation of aircraft. It dismissed all of Sikkelee’s claims except those based on the alleged reporting failures, concluding that the design-related claims were preempted because the issuance of a type certificate for the engine by the Federal Aviation Administration “denotes the Administrator’s finding that the engine met all applicable requirements.”
Continue Reading Air Safety: Federal Preemption of Aircraft Design Defect Claims