Bullitt Co. man asks federal judge for clarity after his drone i - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Bullitt Co. man asks federal judge for clarity after his drone is shot down

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William Merideth William Merideth
David Boggs David Boggs

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky man whose drone was shot out of the sky last summer is taking the man who did it to federal court.

John David Boggs and his attorney filed a civil complaint Monday against William Merideth – the Hillview man who shot down Boggs' drone in July claiming it violated his family's privacy by hovering over his home.

Bullitt County Judge Rebecca Ward agreed saying, “he had a right to shoot at this drone and I’m gonna dismiss the charge.”

Ward dismissed both charges against Merideth in October including criminal mischief and wanton endangerment.

But now, Boggs is going to a federal judge, his attorney says, to "clarify the relationship between private property rights and the rights of aircraft in US airspace."

"The first federal court that speaks to that balance is going to be very persuasive to all of the other courts that may face this issue going forward," said Boggs’ attorney James Mackler who’s a former military pilot.

Mackler told WDRB, "I really believe strongly that we need to have the right balance between privacy - personal property rights - and air safety so to me this is a very exciting case because this is a chance to help establish some precedent in those important areas."

The FAA says it's responsible for the safety and management of U.S. airspace from the ground up.

The complaint says, “The airspace, therefore, is not subject to private ownership nor can the flight of an aircraft within the navigable airspace of the United States constitute a trespass."

The only problem, says Mackler, is that the guidelines have not yet been written for drones.

"Right now the FAA asserts that all unmanned aircraft are aircraft and that all unmanned aircraft are in federal navigable airspace from the moment they take off, which would lead someone to believe that an unmanned aircraft cannot commit a trespass."

The complaint is also asking that Merideth pay $1,500 for the damaged drone.

Merideth told WDRB News that he has not yet hired an attorney for this case, nor has he been served with the complaint.

Shortly after this case became public, a Kentucky lawmaker filed legislation to define the rules here in the Commonwealth.

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