Why is a Florida family seeking compensation from NASA for space debris?

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A family in Naples is seeking damages from NASA after space debris crashed into their home earlier this year.

Micah Nguyen is worthyThe Charlotte, North Carolina, attorney representing Alejandro Otero and his family said in a June 21 news release that her firm has filed a claim with NASA to recover funds “resulting from Space debris incident“March 8.

The statement did not specify the amount. but, Washington Post An attorney told the newspaper in an email that the Oteros family is seeking more than $80,000, it reported Sunday.

NASA confirmed in April that the roughly two-pound cylindrical object was part of a pallet of used batteries from the International Space Station.

Why is Oteros seeking damages?

Alejandro Otero was not home on March 8, but his son Daniel was when space debris left a large hole in the ceiling through the subfloor, the news release from law firm Cranville Sumner said.

The Oteros live in a 4,100-square-foot home on Aspen Chase Road, north of Immokalee Road and east of Interstate 75, according to Collier County real estate records.

“The Oteros family has retained Worthy to navigate the insurance and legal proceedings and file a formal claim against NASA,” the press release said.

“Space debris is a real and serious problem due to the increase in space traffic in recent years,” Worthy, a partner at Cranville Sumner, added in the press release.

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NASA has six months to respond to the claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act, Worthy said in the statement. The statement said the claim includes uninsured property damage loss, business interruption damages, emotional and mental anguish damages, and third-party assistance costs.

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Setting a precedent in seeking reparations for space debris

The statement continued: “This space debris claim is historic because it includes a ‘real-life example’ of the consequences of space debris remaining on the Earth’s surface.”

“How NASA responds to its claim will form the foundation on which the legal landscape in this area will be built.”

Worthy added: “My clients are seeking appropriate compensation to take into account the stress and impact this event has had on their lives. They are grateful that no one suffered physical injuries from this accident, but a ‘near miss’ situation like this could have been catastrophic. Had the wreck been “If it had hit a few feet in another direction, there could have been serious injury or death.”

More about space debris

In confirming that the debris was from the International Space Station, NASA said In 2021, ground controllers used the space station’s robotic arm to launch a charging platform containing old nickel hydride batteries.

The devices released totaled about 5,800 pounds and were supposed to burn up while entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

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Dave Osborne is regional features editor for the Naples Daily News and News-Press. Follow him on Instagram, @Threadslacrossewriter, and on X (formerly Twitter) @NDN_dosborn.

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