Dr. Ronald B. Standler
Consulting to Litigators

Torts Involving Technology

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I earned a Ph.D. in physics in 1977, then worked in electrical engineering research and consulting until 1995.   Since 1998, I am licensed to practice law in Massachusetts.

Services available include:

About Dr. Standler

By way of introduction, I: I shall personally do all work on my client's case or problem, so that my client gets the full benefit of my education and experience.

My homepage at www.rbs2.com/ contains links to documents with my c.v., my current fees, how to contact me, and links to my essays on other topics in law.

My Essays About Technology Law

Essays on this website are provided only to provide general information and to communicate my personal comments on interesting topics in law, technology, and society. Essays on this website are neither legal advice nor legal opinion. Accessing this website or reading documents on this website does not create an attorney-client relationship. See my disclaimer for details.

All essays at this website are protected by copyright. I have posted my Terms Of Service for printing, copying, and distributing my essays at this website.

I am an attorney only in Massachusetts, so I can not provide legal advice to people in other states of the USA, unless they have been injured or sued in Massachusetts, or unless your local attorney hires me as a consultant. However, I have posted the following hints for how to find an attorney.


In 1997, when I was a student in law school, I wrote two term papers that show the interaction between science, technology, engineering standards, medicine, and law in the USA:
(1) Lightning injuries to users of land-line telephones and
(2) Legal duties to warn and to protect people from direct lightning strikes.

The legal duty to warn of lightning at recreational facilities compared with the duty to warn of riptide at beaches, an essay that I wrote in March 2007.

Electric Power Problems:
Surges, Outages, Overvoltages

Since 1979, there is a trend in courts in the USA to consider low-voltage electricity (less than 1000 V rms) as a product, for which products liability applies when the defective electricity causes harm. My essay contains a collection of citations to cases in which a court either considered the product/service distinction or applied products liability law in the context of electrocution, outages, surges, temporary overvoltages, or stray voltage. I wrote a companion essay on liability for defective water (e.g., low water pressure, bacteria or rust in water) in the USA, which has analogies between liability for defective electricity and defective water.

I have written an essay on the technical legal problems faced by plaintiffs who sue an electric utility for losses caused by an outage or blackout. This essay includes a critical discussion of the major cases in the USA.

My essay explains why the transmission and distribution of electricity is neither an ultrahazardous nor an abnormally dangerous activity, for which strict liability (i.e., liability without negligence) applies.

Law of Meteorology

My first peer-reviewed scientific paper, back in the year 1972, was a review of the literature on the toxicity of silver iodide (AgI), the most common cloud seeding agent. In 2002, I spent three months reading all of the reported cases involving negligent cloud seeding, reading all of the articles in law reviews about weather modification, and reading many articles in the meteorology and atmospheric physics journals about weather modification. As a result of this study, I wrote an essay on the law of weather modification, which discusses and analyzes court cases in the USA concerning cloud seeding and summarizes the basic principles of tort liability for cloud seeders. While this essay was written to inform farmers, ranchers, meteorology students, and attorneys working in environmental law or water law about the obscure law of weather modification, this essay is also a case study in how and why courts in the USA avoided deciding disputes about this novel area of technology.

My essay on the history & problems with cloud seeding also explains the need to give adequate long-term financial support to basic scientific research before engaging in practical applications. Scientists have been doing research in weather modification since 1946. Because of the immense economic important of water to farmers and ranchers, there have been many commercial cloud seeding operators since the early 1950s. Despite this long history of science and technology, the courts in the USA have not yet begun to resolve legal issues involving either (1) negligent cloud seeding or (2) the rights of landowners to rain from the clouds that are either above their land or upwind from their land.

My essay, Tort Liability in the USA for Negligent Weather Forecasts, discusses each of the reported court cases in the USA on this topic that involved either people on the ground or sailors at sea. This essay also compares and contrasts cases involving an airplane crash caused by negligent weather information from employees of the U.S. Government.


My essay, written in 1997, on the response of law in the USA to new technology. I discuss the effect of invention of the printing press, telephone wiretaps, contraception, videotaping at home, protection of computer software, and regulation of the Internet.

Copyright 2009-2012 by Ronald B. Standler
This document at   http://www.rbs2.com/itech.htm
first posted 16 May 2011,   revised 23 May 2012

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