‘Droneslayer' Sued in Federal Court

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By Joseph Wright

Jan. 8 — An drone owner filed a federal complaint Jan. 4 against a neighbor who shot down the drone after it flew over the neighbor's property, claiming the U.S. government has exclusive sovereignty over U.S. airspace (Boggs v. Merideth, W.D. Ky., No. 3:16-cv-00006, complaint filed, 1/4/16).

A Kentucky criminal court previously ruled that the neighbor had a right to shoot down a drone flying over his property at a level of about 200 feet.

Drone owner John David Boggs, of Bullitt County, Ky., sees the law differently, asserting in a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky that Class G airspace begins just above surface level and is under the regulatory authority of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Boggs seeks a declaratory ruling that his drone is an “aircraft” under federal law that was, at the time of the shooting, lawfully operating in navigable airspace within the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government.

Boggs wants a judicial declaration that defendant William H. Meredith, also of Bullitt County, Ky., wasn't within his rights to shoot the drone down.

Additionally, Boggs requested the $1,500 value of the drone on a trespass to chattels theory.

Meredith has been unapologetic, marketing T-shirts featuring the hashtag #droneslayer and posting to Facebook a banner reading: “Not only did I do it, but I meant to do it, and I'd do it again.”

Frost Brown Todd LLC represents Boggs.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joseph Wright in Washington at jwright@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Thomas O'Toole at totoole@bna.com