Case Dismissed for Kentucky Drone Shooter

A Kentucky man who used a shotgun to take down a drone back in 2015 recently emerged victorious in a court case that pitted the rights of drone operators versus property owners against each other.

In summer 2015, Hillview, Ky., resident William H. Merideth shot down an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) being flown by David Boggs. Merideth claimed that the UAS had trespassed on his property and, thus, invaded his privacy. Although the shooter initially faced criminal charges, those charges were eventually dismissed by a state court judge, who said Merideth “had a right to shoot” at the aircraft.

Boggs, on the other hand, claimed that he was approximately 200 feet above the property at the time it was shot down and did not view or record the defendant’s property.

On Jan. 4, 2016, Boggs, represented by law firm Frost Brown Todd, then filed a suit in the District Court of Western Kentucky to “define clearly the rights of aircraft operators and property owners” as they related to unmanned aircraft. He also sought compensation for the damage to his drone.

According to a report from Ars Technica, Senior District Judge Thomas B. Russell of the District Court of Western Kentucky has now dismissed the case in favor of Merideth due to a “lack of subject matter jurisdiction.”

Specifically, Russell said the case should have been dealt with in state court, considering the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was not a part of the lawsuit – even though the drone was flying in national airspace, which is, of course, regulated by the FAAA.

“But even if Boggs is correct that his unmanned aircraft is subject to federal regulation … the fact remains that the FAA has not sought to enforce any such regulations in this case,” the judge reportedly said.

Boggs can now either appeal the case or ask Russell to reconsider the decision.

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