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Florida family sues NASA for damage to home from space debris

From a press release by North Carolina-based law firm Cranfill Sumner LLP on partner Mica Nguyen Worthy’s lawsuit against NASA for the International Space Station losing a bolt which then fell on a Naples, Florida family’s home: “On March 8, 2024, a piece of space debris hit the family home of Alejandro Otero, while his son Daniel was present and left a sizable hole from the roof through the sub-flooring. The space debris was confirmed by NASA to be from its flight support equipment used to mount the batteries on the cargo pallet. The Oteros retained Worthy to navigate the insurance and legal process and to make a formal claim against NASA. The damages for the Otero family members include non-insured property damage loss, business interruption damages, emotional / mental anguish damages, and the costs for assistance from third parties required in the process.

“Additionally, the Oteros’ homeowner’s insurance carrier submitted a simultaneous claim for the damages to the property that it had subrogated. ‘Space debris is a real and serious issue because of the increase in space traffic in recent years,’ Worthy emphasized. She had previously written on the Kessler Effect, where the density of space debris in low Earth orbit becomes so great as to cause catastrophic collisions and a ‘cascading’ effect of damage both in orbit and on the surface of the Earth. This space debris claim is historical in that it involves a ‘real life example’ of the consequences of space debris surviving to the Earth’s surface. How NASA responds to her claim will form the foundation upon which the legal landscape in this field will be built,” the release continued.

Sounds kind of ambulance chase-y, to be honest. Obviously NASA was aware of the damage, they sent a team to pick up the object and publicly confirmed it was theirs. Hard to believe they wouldn’t have a few bucks in a discretionary fund to quietly take care of the damages to the home and grease the Oteros with some extra cash plus a crate full of freeze-dried Neapolitan ice cream.

And maybe the family were cool with such an offer until Worthy sold them on being the plaintiff to help her “form the foundation upon which the legal landscape in this field will be built” since obviously this was just the case she was waiting for to test her “Kessler Effect” legal theory.

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