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Thu, Jan 18, 2018

FAA Hit With Class Action Lawsuit Over Drone Registration

Alleges That The FAA Violated Several Laws With Drone Registration Database

The FAA has been hit with another lawsuit over its drone registration database, and this time the agency is facing nearly $840 million in penalties, should the plaintiffs be successful.

Drone attorney Jonathan Rupprecht writes on his blog that the case has been brought by Robert Taylor. He's the brother of John Taylor, the attorney who won a case against the FAA that temporarily suspended the FAA's drone registration requirement. Rupprecht says that this case is a Class Action suit of at least 836,796 members against the FAA.

According to Rupprecht:

Count I is alleging that the FAA collected personal information and money under the Part 48 registration regulations which were declared illegal under the Taylor v. Huerta case. Even after the Taylor v. Huerta ruling, the FAA continued to collect and retain all of the personal information and money. They did not delete the registry or refund the money. “The Privacy Act mandates that agencies that maintain a ‘system of records’ must ‘maintain in its records only such information about an individual as is relevant and necessary to accomplish a purpose of the agency required to be accomplished by statute or by executive order of the President.'” 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(1).” The FAA maintained the personal information of the individuals when the FAA lacked statutory authority, made clear by the Taylor v. Huerta case, and thus violated the Privacy Act. Because the FAA acted intentionally or willfully, each injured party is entitled to $1,000 in statutory damages.

Count II of the lawsuit alleges that under the Little Tucker Act, the Federal Government’s sovereign immunity is waived when the government takes money from individuals in violation of a statute. This is the same thing being alleged in another class action against the FAA, Reichert v. FAA, regarding the FAA illegally taking the $5 during registration. They want everyone’s $5 back.

Count III alleges that the FAA “violated Plaintiff and the Class’s Constitutional and privacy rights by unlawfully promulgating the Registration Rule and enforcing the Registration Rule without any statutory authority to do so. Further, once the D.C. Circuit vacated the Registration Rule, the Defendants did not delete the private and personal information of Model Aircraft owners and did not refund their registration fees. In addition, the Defendants unlawfully continued the registration process and unlawfully maintained Plaintiff and the Class’s private and personal information even after the D.C. Circuit held that the Defendants were prohibited from doing so.” Basically, the constitutional right was the right to judicial review in Article III of the Constitution and the FAA just ignored the D.C. Circuit’s ruling.

Count IV alleges unjust enrichment by collecting over 4 million in fees.

The lawsuit is seeking $5 back for the class ($4,183,980), Privacy Act violation statutory damages of $1,000 EACH for the members of the class, or an estimated $836,796,000. The total would be nearly $841 million,  plus attorneys fees.

In December, Congress passed and President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which overturned the initial Taylor v. Huerta ruling and put the drone registration regulations back in place.

(Image from file)

FMI: Original report


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