Spaceport liability changes are a no-brainer, unfortunately trial lawyers have no brains

Should I be able to waive my rights to sue somebody if I engage in an obviously-risky behavior? It would seem obvious that one should be able to do so (particularly if they are paying $200,000 for the privilege) , but I’m not a trial lawyer (thank God!). Also, in case you missed it, we at the Rio Grande Foundation aren’t huge fans of the Spaceport.

Nonetheless, we do hope the Spaceport succeeds (as best it can) as taxpayers have spent upwards of $200 million on it already. So, it is shocking, but perhaps not surprising, that the trial lawyers have convinced so many legislators to oppose efforts to protect those who will be providing space flights out of the New Mexico Spaceport from legal action. After all, there is already talk of a “Spaceport Glut.” Do opponents of liability protection really think Richard Branson and his buddies are stupid enough to come to New Mexico if they can go elsewhere and not be exposed to these lawsuits?

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9 Replies to “Spaceport liability changes are a no-brainer, unfortunately trial lawyers have no brains”

  1. Shouldn’t one of the big brains in the Richardson administration or the NM state legislature have thought about this problem BEFORE the state spent a dime? That is, no funding for Spaceport without a law limiting liability?

    Stupid me. I forgot that the Richardson administration and NM legislature don’t care how much money they spend because its not THEIR money. (Other people spending other people’s money on other people).

  2. I am not in favor of the government picking and choosing what private enterprise they are going to support or not. Whatever label you put on it, it is still a subsidy.

  3. I happen to be one of many who support the spaceport. In early aviation history it was the government who supported the industry and we became world leaders in aviation for 80 years. Consumer and commercial space flight will happen. It is no coincidence that states like Texas, Florida, and Virginia are also in the business – there is unlimited economic potential. Sure there are some legal issues but it died in House Business and Industry Committee and not Judiciary – go figure. The C of C of several southern cities, the newly confirmed Sect of Economic Development, and several others testified on behalf of the bill. Only the Trial Lawyers Association objected. Because of weather, open space , and altitude NM has some advantages over other states but this roadblock may very well render our spaceport non-competitive.

  4. I support the idea of a spaceport,this is really our future as a species.The devil is here is in the details and I am unsure of all the details, as I imagine most of you are. There may be a spaceport glut, but it may also evolve into a situation where the very best survive and others do not. After all many businesses fail. That is something the right wing pro business folks dont like to stress in their talking points pushing reduced regulation and protections for individuals.
    A highly competitive business environment leaves many by the wayside.For every Apple and Microsoft there were many more failures. If you like that system, learn to live with the consequences.
    I do question why businesses should be given a pass if people were injured or, more likely in the case of a spaceport, killed through their negligence. This is really providing them one more right we as individuals do not have in order to protect them from failure. And perhaps if they face some liability they will be more careful.

  5. Just to clarify, this waiver of liability is only in regards to the passengers. Passengers sign a release before flight that they will not sue the operator of the spacecraft operator. The intent of the legislation is to extend that release to component manufactures. And the ability to sue for gross neglect always remains in place. Full liability also remains for any other damage, injury, etc to anything or anyone beyond the passengers. If the spacecraft falls on your cow, your barn or your head, you can sue.

  6. Still a little unsure if jp white is saying passengers, or their surviving families, who are injured or killed in a space flight through some sort of clear blatant negligence by the operator or component manufacturers can or cannot sue.He does say the ability to sue for gross neglect always remains in place.

    1. I believe that they are waiving that liability, after all, they are choosing to do something very risky and that is not a necessary risk. The only people who can sue are people who are affected by “externalities” like if something from an exploded spacecraft falls on their house.

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