Category Archives: Tort

Drone Shooting in the News

Looks like my article, Self-Defense Against Robots and Drones (written with Zak Colangelo) isn’t a minute too early. ArsTechnica reports Man shoots downs neighbor’s hexacopter in rural drone shotgun battle.

The parties in Joe v McBay differ as to where the drone actually was when it got shot. Plaintiff says it was on his land, defendant says the GPS data shows it wasn’t. The Judge from the Stanislaus County Court Small Claims Division didn’t care:

Court finds that Mr. McBay acted unreasonably in having his son shoot the drone down regardless of whether it was over his property or not

We don’t agree in our article that the drone’s location is irrelevant. If the drone was not on the defendant-shooter’s land, then he ought to be liable for the damages. But whether he should be liable if the drone was trespassing is a surprisingly complicated question that we address at some length in our article. It depends in large part on what the shooter reasonably thought the drone was doing, and whether the act of shooting the weapon, or any subsequent drone crash, would put anyone else at risk.

Basically, in an urban area it will almost never be reasonable to shoot down even a trespassing drone unless it clearly threatens physical harm to a person or perhaps very major property damage. In a rural area where the dangers of errant shots and crashing drones may be much less, many other factors come into the calculus of reasonableness, including whether it reasonably appears that the drone may be on a spying run, and how valuable the drone looks.

Posted in Robots, Tort | 3 Comments

A New Online Dating Scam

Bentham’s Gaze:

We identified three types of scams happening on [Chinese dating site] Jiayuan. … Another interesting type of scams that we identified are what we call dates for profit. In this scheme, attractive young ladies are hired by the owners of fancy restaurants. The scam then consists in having the ladies contact people on the dating site, taking them on a date at the restaurant, having the victim pay for the meal, and never arranging a second date. This scam is particularly interesting, because there are good chances that the victim will never realize that he’s been scammed — in fact, he probably had a good time.

Would be a nice tort problem if I taught fraud (and I should).

Spotted via via Schneier on Security: Online Dating Scams.

Posted in Internet, Tort | 3 Comments

Best Disclaimer Ever?

The TV version of this otherwise endless and pointless commercial for KFC contains what may be the best disclaimer I have ever witnessed in the wild:

Professional. Do not attempt to eat chicken while doing a backflip on a motorcycle. You may choke.

Imagining that some lawyer got paid a lot of money for writing that just makes it funnier.

Posted in Tort | 2 Comments

Palsgraf, Circa 1933

Torts mavens will like this posting about the immediate reception of Palsgraf v. Long Island R. Co., a Cardozo decision that is arguably the most famous US tort case about causation.

I happen to hate Palsgraf for all sorts of reasons, not least what I consider the opinion’s dishonesty, and try to teach it as fast as I reasonably can. Even so, or perhaps particularly so, it’s fun to read the account of what a contemporary hornbook, James M. Henderson’s Questions and Answers with Problems and Illustrative Matter on the Law of Torts, Based on all the Standard Text and Case Books made of it back in 1933.

This is an early effort from a promising legal history blog, noncuratlex.com, one that seems to offer just about the right mix of history, whimsey, and obscurantism.

Posted in Blogs, Tort | 1 Comment