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Mark Dombroff on Added Levels of Litigation Protection

07/10/2018

U.S. airport operators and their contractors and consultants tend to be vigilant about risk-management. However, many have yet to pursue the powerful liability protections that are potentially available to them thanks to an underappreciated piece of federal legislation — the SAFETY Act of 2002.

Why would airports fail to take advantage of a law designed to protect American businesses from liability? That easy-to-remember acronym might have something to do with it.

The authors of the SAFETY Act probably started with the catchy acronym and worked backward. Keen on using the reassuring word “safety” in the uncertain wake of 9/11, lawmakers christened their bill the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002 (§Subtitle G of Title VII of the Homeland Security Act of 2002).

The purpose here was to protect the gamut of businesses that could be assets in the War on Terror. Imagine a startup that makes a nifty gadget for detecting plastic explosives at airports. Lawmakers understood that even if such a device were successful 99 out of 100 times, even a single failure could trigger an avalanche of lawsuits. Congress was concerned that, faced with such a “bet-the-company” level of liability risk, U.S. businesses would simply scrap plans for innovative products and services.

Read the full article in the JDA Journal here.

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