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How TRUST increases legal liability for AMA & members

Old 06-24-2021, 03:19 AM
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Default How TRUST increases legal liability for AMA & members

With one simple question, the FAA has increased the legal liability for AMA and its members in the event of an incident with a manned aircraft. that takes this test affirmatively acknowledges the rules, including this one.

All of those certificates are discoverable, which means it can be easily shown that every EC member, District VPs, Contest Director, Event Manager, Club President, Club Safety Officer, member, the AMA safety guru, the AMA safety committee, and even the AMA ED acknowledged this and the other rules. If it can then be shown that despite KNOWING the rules, these same people did nothing when they knew or should have known the rules were not being followed (say at sanctioned events) - individual and organizational liability goes way up.

Not that different than when a kid gets hurt on condo association playground, and lawyers go pull records and find that condo company wasn't following CPSC inspection guidelines. Might as well just add another couple zeros to the settlement check.

FAA outfoxed the AMA yet again. You have a certificate? They can prove you KNOW every rule tested upon, and clear and unambiguous questions like this make for easy prosecutions because they draw clear bright lines. Over 400 feet in a mishap, they got you because you knew the rule and violated it. Tell them you don't have a certificate? Then they get you for violation of the law. And if it happens at an event sanctioned by AMA and supervised by a "direct representative of the AMA" (a.k.a. Contest Director) and he did nothing to stop violations - they've got AMA as well.



Old 06-25-2021, 03:07 AM
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aymodeler
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When has ignorance of the law ever been a valid legal defense?
Old 06-25-2021, 03:30 AM
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Originally Posted by aymodeler View Post
When has ignorance of the law ever been a valid legal defense?
It hasn't. But the reality is, it's much easier to prosecute an offense when you don't have to rely on that - but can instead turn to explicit acknowledgement of rule. Like these explicit questions and answers.

FAA and other stakeholders are playing the long game. It's not impossible that in the not too distant future, some of those commercial drones flying around at not a lot higher than 400 feet, will be able to record day time and location information using RemoteID receivers. While probably not enough to prosecute, it will create data showing "hot spots" of non-compliance. If those are AMA sanctioned events, AMA could find itself standing in front of the body that regulates their activity trying to explain their indefensible policy. While their safety code rule says members should follow FAA rules, the AMA does not enforce that rule! See the problem?

Similarly, there are individuals and clubs out there that feel it's their "right" to overfly others' property - again, contrary to AMA rules that say not to overfly unprotected property and people. It'll be easy to create the legal argument against them. As for the legal They took the test, the test says follow the rules of the CBO, the CBO says not to overfly, and you did it anyway. Now say CDs stand by and do nothing? As "agents of the AMA," then AMA itself is now implicated. Not saying any of this is automatic, nor that residents will win, but their chances go way up (IMO). Those neighbors will use zoning and other tools to shut down clubs.

Not unlike the problem of encroachment around civilian airports. The record is full of places where airfields existed for decades before people moved in, but the airfield either ends up changing ops or closing entirely. Everytime one of those fields under encroachment pressure has a pilot that doesn't fly the pattern correctly, it hands the opponents the stick to beat them. Fortunately, the solution is easy. Individuals and clubs that follow the rules, to the letter, won't have problems. AMA would be wise to take obvious steps to ensure compliance, like conditioning insurance coverage on compliance with AMA and FAA, but they won't. So it's not IF there's more problems and lost fields, it's just when.
Old 06-25-2021, 06:40 AM
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And so they should be prosecuted for their offense. What's your point?
Old 06-25-2021, 07:00 AM
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Franklin doesn't have a point. He has decided that there is nothing that the AMA can do that is right, and has made it his personal mission to bury the organization.

R_Strowe
Old 06-25-2021, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by ElectriMan View Post
And so they should be prosecuted for their offense. What's your point?
I would say that the point is as follows:
1) IF an AMA member fails to follow the safety code, some sort of disciplinary action should be initiated
2) IF a CD fails to require members to follow the safety code, they should be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including losing their CD status
3) IF a club member fails to follow club rules, some sort of disciplinary action should be initiated
4) IF the club officers fail to enforce club rules, some sort of disciplinary action should be initiated, up to and including being removed from office
5) IF a member is found to be repeatedly violating club, AMA or FAA rules, that member should be expelled from the organization(s) for a length of time to be determined by the organization officer board up to a permanent ban.
6) IF a member is found to be violating FAA regulations, the FAA should be given jurisdiction over the proceedings to determine action to be taken
Old 06-25-2021, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Hydro Junkie View Post
I would say that the point is as follows:
1) IF an AMA member fails to follow the safety code, some sort of disciplinary action should be initiated
2) IF a CD fails to require members to follow the safety code, they should be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including losing their CD status
3) IF a club member fails to follow club rules, some sort of disciplinary action should be initiated
4) IF the club officers fail to enforce club rules, some sort of disciplinary action should be initiated, up to and including being removed from office
5) IF a member is found to be repeatedly violating club, AMA or FAA rules, that member should be expelled from the organization(s) for a length of time to be determined by the organization officer board up to a permanent ban.
6) IF a member is found to be violating FAA regulations, the FAA should be given jurisdiction over the proceedings to determine action to be taken
I agree 100%

Next we will hear from the AMA faithful, about how these measures are already in place.

What they can't and/or won't show is examples of how these measures have actually been adhered to or exercised in any kind of uniform or consistent basis.

Regards,

Astro
Old 06-25-2021, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by astrohog View Post
I agree 100%

Next we will hear from the AMA faithful, about how these measures are already in place.

What they can't and/or won't show is examples of how these measures have actually been adhered to or exercised in any kind of uniform or consistent basis.

Regards,

Astro
If they can't, that means the safety code is a joke and the flying clubs are just "good ol' boy" organizations. If they won't, it means they have no desire to implicate themselves as complicit in the rules violations
Old 06-25-2021, 07:59 AM
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And if anyone that is not a member of AMA causes an "incident" there is no consequence? Is that the point?
Old 06-25-2021, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by ElectriMan View Post
And if anyone that is not a member of AMA causes an "incident" there is no consequence? Is that the point?
Nope, not in the least. IF I were to be flying my plane at a field as a guest and violate either the club's, AMA's or FAA's rules, I would expect to be asked to leave and not come back for the first two or prosecuted by the FAA. I don't believe in the "free lunch" because I'm not a member. In fact, I feel my behavior has to be better than those that are members for that very reason. I wouldn't expect you to invite me into your home and not have repercussions if I started damaging it so why should I expect to be treated any differently for bad behavior at a flying field? Hope that makes sense
Old 06-25-2021, 10:19 AM
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With the thread title "How TRUST increases legal liability for AMA & members" it seems to imply that only members and AMA will be held accountable. What about those who are flying anywhere else but an AMA chartered field and non members?
Old 06-25-2021, 10:35 AM
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I see where you're going, thought the last post was aimed at me. That's a good question for Andy and Franklin to debate
Old 06-25-2021, 01:44 PM
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I suspect that the bigger risk to the AMA and to any club is not from legal enforcement by the FAA for some sort of rules infraction, but a civil claim should there be a severe incident involving death, injury or major property damage resulting from an AMA member operating at an AMA chartered club or AMA sanctioned event in an unsafe manner. In such a case, test or no test, the AMA and/or the club might find itself named in a civil suit and be held liable IF it can be proven that they were aware that the safety code was being routinely ignored and did nothing about it. But that might not be so easy to actually prove.
Old 06-26-2021, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by ElectriMan View Post
With the thread title "How TRUST increases legal liability for AMA & members" it seems to imply that only members and AMA will be held accountable. What about those who are flying anywhere else but an AMA chartered field and non members?
I took it to mean if an AMA member gets into FAA trouble, it could not only result in FAA punishment of the member, it could also result in the FAA punishing the AMA if the AMA is found to be complicit in the activity that caused the FAA's action. The example of an AMA CD not enforcing FAA regulations at an AMA sponsored event where an incident occurs could be one such instance where both the member and the AMA itself may be at risk of FAA action. If someone who happens to be an AMA member causes an incident that leads to FAA involvement when not at an AMA sanctioned event or at an AMA affiliated club field I believe the AMA wouldn't be involved. As to non members, of course the AMA wouldn't be involved in their FAA transgressions, that would be between that person and the FAA with no AMA involvement. I believe the subtext of Franklin's topic is that at AMA sanctioned events and AMA affiliated club fields the AMA had best make sure all members are adhering to all of the FAA UAS regulations, lest the AMA find itself legally culpable for allowing it's members to operate outside of the FAA's established rules if some terrible incident does occur (rules that we all agreed to and proved we knew by signing onto and completing the "TRUST")

I would certainly hope that ALL of my fellow AMA members would want to fly in accordance with the FAA's regulations, if for no other reason (safety, legal liability, etc) than to not put the stigma on our organization of our members being a bunch of lawless yahoos....

Last edited by init4fun; 06-26-2021 at 10:18 AM. Reason: clarify my point.....
Old 06-26-2021, 10:31 AM
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That may be the basis for this argument but I don’t see how TRUST has changed anything that would make AMA any more liable than they would be before TRUST.

Of course I don’t believe that any of the incidents that have taken the hobby to this level of scrutiny has been committed by an AMA member anyway; Franklin will let me know if I am wrong.
Old 06-26-2021, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by init4fun View Post
I took it to mean if an AMA member gets into FAA trouble, it could not only result in FAA punishment of the member, it could also result in the FAA punishing the AMA if the AMA is found to be complicit in the activity that caused the FAA's action. The example of an AMA CD not enforcing FAA regulations at an AMA sponsored event where an incident occurs could be one such instance where both the member and the AMA itself may be at risk of FAA action. If someone who happens to be an AMA member causes an incident that leads to FAA involvement when not at an AMA sanctioned event or at an AMA affiliated club field I believe the AMA wouldn't be involved. As to non members, of course the AMA wouldn't be involved in their FAA transgressions, that would be between that person and the FAA with no AMA involvement. I believe the subtext of Franklin's topic is that at AMA sanctioned events and AMA affiliated club fields the AMA had best make sure all members are adhering to all of the FAA UAS regulations, lest the AMA find itself legally culpable for allowing it's members to operate outside of the FAA's established rules if some terrible incident does occur (rules that we all agreed to and proved we knew by signing onto and completing the "TRUST")
Exactly.

If such an incident were to occur, say failure of CDs to enforce operational limits, the FAA would also look to see if this is a pattern of conduct at AMA sanctioned events. If they find that, and they likely would today, then I expect the FAA would dial up the corrective actions / penalties applied to AMA. A simple one would be to just revoke their CBO status.

Smart move for AMA would be seen as following the letter of the law at all sanctioned events and at clubs.
Old 06-27-2021, 05:42 AM
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Originally Posted by franklin_m View Post
Exactly.

If such an incident were to occur, say failure of CDs to enforce operational limits, the FAA would also look to see if this is a pattern of conduct at AMA sanctioned events. If they find that, and they likely would today, then I expect the FAA would dial up the corrective actions / penalties applied to AMA. A simple one would be to just revoke their CBO status.Smart move for AMA would be seen as following the letter of the law at all sanctioned events and at clubs.
So how is it any different than it was before TRUST?
Old 06-27-2021, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by ElectriMan View Post
So how is it any different than it was before TRUST?
I am certainly not a lawyer, but in my (uniformed) opinion this really does not change anything at all. Ultimately, this would come down to a situation where it can be proven that the AMA knew, or should have known that there was a "pattern of unsafe conduct" at an AMA sanctioned event and did nothing about it. The fact that the AMA members (along with all recreational flyers) now must publicly attest to the fact that they know the rules via TRUST does not change anything. The rules exist with or without TRUST and "ignorance of the law" is never an excuse. And even if ignorance was an excuse, is it really credible for the AMA to stand up and say "I didn't know that" about any of the concepts or ideas presented in TRUST? Sure, it might make for a dramatic line of questioning in a courtroom TV drama, but I still don't see how it actually increases liability.

The whole point of TRUST is an attempt to drag the "careless and clueless" (e.g.; who bought a drone at Best Buy on a whim) through minimal education in the hopes that they will have at least some idea of what is required to safely operate their new toy before launching it and letting it fly away. That is why it is really more of a training course than an actual test.
Old 06-28-2021, 03:20 AM
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Based on my experience it does make a difference. While ignorance of the law is never an excuse, the reality is that the court systems do take that into account. There is a reason the military justice system requires not just verbal acknowledgement of individual rights, but goes the extra step of a written acknowledgement. Even though one can make an argument that everyone "should" know their rights, when they acknowledge them in writing it removes all doubt.

Similarly before TRUST, in cases of sUAS operations, the government side's argument is that the violator "should" have known about the law they broke. That weakens the argument, especially in sentencing. Not enough to drive it to zero perhaps, but enough to water it down a bit. Now that TRUST requires explicit acknowledgement of several rules, it is very easy for the government to connect the dots - in the case of individuals or organizations. No longer can any defendant or organization say they didn't know and beg forgiveness. With TRUST, it removes all doubt.
Old 06-28-2021, 03:40 AM
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Originally Posted by franklin_m View Post
Based on my experience it does make a difference. While ignorance of the law is never an excuse, the reality is that the court systems do take that into account. There is a reason the military justice system requires not just verbal acknowledgement of individual rights, but goes the extra step of a written acknowledgement. Even though one can make an argument that everyone "should" know their rights, when they acknowledge them in writing it removes all doubt.

Similarly before TRUST, in cases of sUAS operations, the government side's argument is that the violator "should" have known about the law they broke. That weakens the argument, especially in sentencing. Not enough to drive it to zero perhaps, but enough to water it down a bit. Now that TRUST requires explicit acknowledgement of several rules, it is very easy for the government to connect the dots - in the case of individuals or organizations. No longer can any defendant or organization say they didn't know and beg forgiveness. With TRUST, it removes all doubt.
Do you honestly believe that the AMA can credibly claim they knew nothing about the rules before TRUST?
Old 06-28-2021, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by aymodeler View Post
Do you honestly believe that the AMA can credibly claim they knew nothing about the rules before TRUST?
Never implied they could, or at least not intentionally. But what anyone in the chain between the offending flyer and the AMA could have done before trust is create doubt. Now, with not will FAA have in hand explict proof that the offending flyer(s) explicitly acknowledged the rules, so do will they have the explicit acknowledgement of EVERYONE in the organizational supervisory/fiduciary chain: CD/EM, Club Officers, AMA Safety Head, District AVPs, District VPs, ED, Vice President, and the President himself knew. That's where the failure to enforce can become a problem for AMA. If FAA ever wanted to have a reason to yank the CBO designation, all it would take is to show a pattern of non-enforcement of the AMA safety code. FAA will see the safety code as far less of a big deal when they see AMA doesn't enforce it even on their own members.

I maintain that as a result of taking the TRUST test, all those AMA officials have handed the FAA nicely crossed "t's" and dotted "i's." In other words, handed the FAA the stick to beat them with.

Last edited by franklin_m; 06-28-2021 at 07:24 AM.
Old 06-28-2021, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by franklin_m View Post
Never implied they could, or at least not intentionally. But what anyone in the chain between the offending flyer and the AMA could have done before trust is create doubt. Now, with not will FAA have in hand explict proof that the offending flyer(s) explicitly acknowledged the rules, so do will they have the explicit acknowledgement of EVERYONE in the organizational supervisory/fiduciary chain: CD/EM, Club Officers, AMA Safety Head, District AVPs, District VPs, ED, Vice President, and the President himself knew. That's where the failure to enforce can become a problem for AMA. If FAA ever wanted to have a reason to yank the CBO designation, all it would take is to show a pattern of non-enforcement of the AMA safety code. FAA will see the safety code as far less of a big deal when they see AMA doesn't enforce it even on their own members.

I maintain that as a result of taking the TRUST test, all those AMA officials have handed the FAA nicely crossed "t's" and dotted "i's." In other words, handed the FAA the stick to beat them with.
Whereas I maintain that it would be very difficult for anyone in that chain to credibly claim they did not know the rules, and if they did make that claim, it would call into question the validity of the AMA's CBO status anyway, with or without TRUST. Think about it, the whole purpose of a CBO in the context of these regulations is to develop and maintain a safety program for recreational UAS. How could any CBO claim to be delivering against that mandate if the officers of that organization do not know the basic safety requirements? And since the safety code is the entire purpose of the CBO from the standpoint of the law (in this case), if the AMA failed to uphold those requirements, they would likely lose CBO status anyway, again, TRUST or no TRUST.

That leaves the rank-and-file AMA membership. Even if you do believe that by going through the TRUST certification process individuals now have an increased liability risk should they behave in a negligent fashion, that would apply uniformly to any and all recreational UAS flyers as individuals, regardless of weather or not they are AMA members.

In truth, I do tend to agree that the AMA (or any other CBO) must take a more active and vigilant role in upholding their own safety code now, but that has nothing to do with TRUST. That responsibility began to accrue the moment Congress put into law that CBO's are responsible for the safety code which recreational UAS fliers are to operate under.

Ultimately, this is a matter of opinion and there is no way we can ever prove the point one way or another, but I still firmly believe that TRUST is squarely aimed at those operating outside of a CBO and really changes nothing from the standpoint of the AMA and the AMA's responsibilities, liabilities, and risks that wasn't changed already by making CBOs legally responsible for recreational UAS safety codes.
Old 06-28-2021, 02:44 PM
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I think you are both essentially saying the same thing and are in agreement. I believe what Franklin was trying to point out is that the AMA has always touted their "Safety Code" and safety track record to try and advocate for some kind of elevated status. Now that the FAA is in charge, they have set actual rules and expect ALL players to abide. The AMA has a track record of conveniently "ignoring" their own safety rules and not taking any disciplinary action against those who do not abide. If the AMA continues to do this, it will only serve to erode whatever respect they still might have with the Feds, therefore harming all AMA members.

Astro
Old 07-01-2021, 06:40 AM
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I suspect - but am not a lawyer - the AMA administration of the TRUST exam reduces their liability. Not increases.

The AMA is helping to make sure members know the rules. This reinforcement should reduce their liability (arguably while increasing the liability of the individual - however if we agree that TRUST teaches good practices, TRUST should reduce incidents).

Health insurance costs decrease when employers conduct health-education... Liability insurance decreases if employees participate in safety events... Plenty of precedents.

By hosting the TRUST exam, the AMA made a good move in my opinion.
Old 07-01-2021, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by PopeyeCharlotte View Post
I suspect - but am not a lawyer - the AMA administration of the TRUST exam reduces their liability. Not increases.
I would disagree in this case. By administering the test, it does not change anything in the eyes of anyone. I administer FAA mandated tests to people to make sure they know what they are doing when they are doing their jobs. Just because they pass the test doesn't mean they follow the rules while actually working

Originally Posted by PopeyeCharlotte View Post
The AMA is helping to make sure members know the rules. This reinforcement should reduce their liability (arguably while increasing the liability of the individual - however if we agree that TRUST teaches good practices, TRUST should reduce incidents).
Knowing the rules and following them are two different things. I'll use my drive to work this morning as an example. The speed limit signs, of which there were many, all say the speed limit is 60MPH. To stay with traffic, I was usually driving at 70+. If I wasn't driving at that speed, I would have probably been rear ended on many occasions during my 46 mile commute

Originally Posted by PopeyeCharlotte View Post
Health insurance costs decrease when employers conduct health-education... Liability insurance decreases if employees participate in safety events... Plenty of precedents.
Interesting that you would talk about health and liability insurances. I've found that, every time I've used insurance, of any sort, the costs go up. Get a traffic ticket, the costs go up. I've never seen where a class or educational program resulted in lower rates, other than by taking a drivers education class getting a driver's license.

Originally Posted by PopeyeCharlotte View Post
By hosting the TRUST exam, the AMA made a good move in my opinion.
Like Vice President Harris going to El Paso and claiming she went to the border(which is not the case when you really look at it since it was not in the most active area of border crossings and she never even got dust on her shoes), it's a symbolic move, nothing more

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