UW School of Law > LTA Journal

Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts

Volume 9  | Spring 2014  | Number 4

Who Knew? Refining the "Knowability" Standard for the Future of Potentially Hazardous Technologies

Scott P. Kennedy
9 Wash. J.L. Tech. & Arts  267

6/13/2014

Corporate & Commercial

As consumer technology becomes increasingly complex, so too does the manufacturer’s task in assessing the scope of its duty to warn of potential dangers. A recent decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Rosa v. Taser International, Inc., offers a prime illustration of this challenge through its analysis of a hazard posed by Taser weaponry. The Rosa court highlighted a point of uncertainty in this area of law: courts typically determine which hazards were knowable at the time of manufacture as a matter of law, but they sometimes do so in the absence of a comprehensive standard. This Article evaluates the Ninth Circuit’s approach as a potential model for other courts. After a brief survey of U.S. products liability law pertaining to the “knowability” requirement, this Article analyzes the Rosa decision. Although the Rosa court bemoaned the absence of a comprehensive standard for making this determination in California, the court’s reasoning implicitly suggests a three-part test that could serve as a model in California and elsewhere. Such a standard would reduce the legal uncertainty faced by manufacturers assessing the extent of their duty and by plaintiffs assessing the strength of their claims.

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Are Courts Phoning It In? Resolving Problematic Reasoning in the Debate over Warrantless Searches of Cell Phones Incident to Arrest

Derek A. Scheurer
9 Wash. J.L. Tech. & Arts  287

6/13/2014

Constitutional & Regulatory

In 1973, the United States Supreme Court in United States v. Robinson granted police broad authority to search arrestees’ personal property. Robinson’s broad rule has not been significantly limited and appears increasingly anachronistic in an age of rapidly advancing mobile technologies. Whether upholding or invalidating such searches, courts have relied on reasoning that ignores or conflicts with Robinson. This Article illustrates four problematic contrivances used by state and federal courts: (1) the comparison of mobile devices to “containers; (2) the misinterpretation of United States v. Chadwick’s concept of “property not immediately associated with the person;” (3) the unjustifiable application of Arizona v. Gant’s “reason to believe” rationale; and (4) the baseless categorical exclusion of cell phones from the search incident doctrine. In light of the public’s apparently high expectation of privacy for information stored on mobile devices, this Article recommends two possible solutions for restricting police authority: (1) return to an exigency-based rationale following Chimel v. California or (2) look to state legislatures to curb police powers through law making.

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Forced Turnovers: Using Eminent Domain to Build Professional Sports Venues

Peter Montine
9 Wash. J.L. Tech. & Arts  331

6/13/2014

Corporate & Commercial

If a city wants to keep a professional sports team within its borders, can that city use the power of eminent domain to do so? Although cities have not been able to successfully condemn the actual sports franchises within their respective cities, they have been successful in condemning land for the development of new sports venues intended to entice their teams to stay. In 2005, the City of Arlington, Texas invoked the power of eminent domain to condemn and destroy houses to make room for the Dallas Cowboys’ new stadium. In 2006, New York City used eminent domain on land belonging to private businesses in order to make room for construction of a new arena for the New Jersey Nets. Recently, three other major American cities (Sacramento, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C.) announced that they are prepared to use eminent domain to build new sports stadiums for their local professional sports teams. While there are a few strategies that property owners could hypothetically use to stop these takings, courts have yet to stop a city from using eminent domain to condemn land for sports stadiums. However, if property owners are willing to settle, these same strategies can help prolong condemnation negotiations, thereby increasing the owners’ potential remunerations.

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Sentencing Court Discretion and the Confused Ban on Internet Bans

Matthew Fredrickson
9 Wash. J.L. Tech. & Arts  349

6/13/2014

Litigation

In United States v. Wright, issued June 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit cited a supposed consensus among circuit courts that Internet bans are per se unreasonably broad sentences in electronic child pornography possession and distribution cases. This Article demonstrates that the Sixth Circuit’s claim of a consensus is mistaken. While some circuit courts have limited judicial sentencing discretion when it comes to imposing Internet bans, many more have not imposed this limit. Despite this lack of consensus, in cases where such bans are challenged, most courts make their decisions partly based on either the Internet’s pervasive importance in modern society or its capacity for rapid change. Though the claim of a consensus is incorrect, pointing to the Internet’s unique qualities, especially its pervasive importance, remains a compelling argument.

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