Wednesday, August 22, 2018


                Fantasy Football is gearing up, and we are on the eve of many drafts and leagues forming for the new season. As attorneys, we often get asked about the legality of sports gambling and in particular, fantasy sports. As some of you are aware, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a gambling ban from 1992 called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. Thus, sports gambling is no longer illegal under federal law. However, each state can have laws that restrict or forbids gambling within their state borders. As for fantasy sports, that has been dealt with separately.

                As of May 16 of this year, fourteen (14) states have specifically allowed fantasy sports, and daily fantasy sports to exist (SEE: New Hampshire is one of those states, as Governor Sununu signed the bill into law on July 18, 2017.

                As noted here, the law provides the following:

·         Regulation of the industry will fall to the New Hampshire lottery commission, which is given the power to promulgate some rules to oversee the industry.
·         There is no fee or tax for operators that register with the state. An earlier version of the bill had both an upfront fee and a tax on revenue.
·         Operators must register with the commission, but may continue to operate in the state while the law is taking effect, if they apply for registration.
·         The law sets up basic consumer protections for users at registered DFS sites, including a ban on employee play; the segregation of player funds and operational funds; and responsible gaming protocols.
·         The minimum age for users is 18.

                Thus, daily fantasy sites like FanDuel and DraftKings are specially legalized in the State of New Hampshire. Most importantly, the law mandates you must be eighteen (18) years of age, and provides consumer protections to those using those sites.

                Fantasy sports is something many of us are involved in, and it’s evident that right now all of those that play are not in danger of breaking the law. However, laws can change quickly, and it’s important to know your rights. Here at Parnell, Michels & McKay, we keep ourselves updated on the developments in the law to help he assist all of our clients dealing with legal issues. Contact us today if you need help navigating the legal playing field.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Self-Drivings Cars and the Intersection of Human Negligence and Products Liability

                Self-Driving cars are now becoming more and more popular. Other states, like California, are now allowing them to be operated on their roads in controlled settings. For many of us, this will remind us of movies involving cars that drive themselves while the human in the car is able to relax on their drive. It’s almost like a taxi, but it’s the person’s car and a computer program is driving. Technology is always a fascinating thing, but in this context, what happens when self-driving cars cause an accident?

                As many people are aware, if you cause an accident and are liable, an insurance claim and possible litigation may be brought against you. This would require the person that was hit and injured to prove that the other driver was negligent, and that this negligence caused the collision and the injuries to the Plaintiff. But what about if the car was self-driving?

                This makes these cases potentially much more complicated. First, there is typically a requirement that any self-driving car have a human that is alert and attentive at the wheel. If the collision with a self-driving car is caused by the human’s inattention, then a negligence theory will still work. Second, however, is much more complicated. If the car crash was caused by the computer program, then the negligence standard will not work in the traditional sense. In this case, the likely remedy is a products liability claim. Products liability claims require proving manufacturing defects, design defects, or warning defects. In this sense, the fault in a computer program likely involves the first two (manufacturing and design defects). A manufacturing defect involves a problem that occurs when the product is being manufactured, or created. A design defect is when the design itself is problematic.

                In either circumstance, to prove a self-driving car acted in appropriately will likely involve a blend of negligence and product liability laws. While New Hampshire and Massachusetts aren’t currently dealing with an influx of self-driving cars, it is likely going to happen in the coming years.

                If you are injured by any driver (even a computer), the experienced attorneys at Parnell, Michels and McKay can help you. Contact us if you find yourself in a situation where you need to know your legal rights.