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Diaz Reus & Targ | International Law Blog | Miami Florida

In response to the growing phenomenon of domestic drones and legal/regulatory issues surrounding their use, the Florida-based international law firm of Diaz Reus announces the launch of its Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) practice. Headed by partner Brant Hadaway, whose aviation law background includes representation of American aircraft manufacturer Cessna, the new group will assist clients with navigating the regulatory and legal hurdles associated with this emerging technology.

Brant Hadaway | U.S. and International litigation“Apart from military use, drones, officially known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems, have only recently emerged as engines for domestic investment and economic growth,” said Hadaway, who writes about UAS law and regulation at DroneLaw.Com. “But the regulatory regime for commercial UAS operations has lagged behind the technology, creating a challenging and often confusing environment for businesses.”

While the FAA is expected to release a set of proposed rules specifically for small UAS (sUAS) by the end of December 2014, those rules will be subject to a lengthy comment period before they can become law. “Further, proposed rules for large UAS are still years away,” said Hadaway.

Reports suggest that the FAA’s proposed sUAS rules for commercial operators will include onerous licensing requirements on commercial operators who use small drones for tasks such as aerial real estate photography and surveying farm crops. Although the FAA does allow commercial operators to apply for exemptions, getting those applications reviewed and approved has proven time-consuming, and the expense creates high entry-barriers to individual operators. “Not even hobbyists are safe,” Hadaway noted. “That drone under the Christmas tree could, in theory, land you a substantial fine if you operate it in a manner that, in the opinion of the FAA, threatens life or property.”

Diaz Reus hopes to assist industry stakeholders with contributing possible solutions that would satisfy regulatory concerns while allowing greater room for innovation. “Exploring solutions is one of the reasons why I started writing DroneLaw.Com,” said Hadaway.

“In the meantime, the UAS industry will need legal guidance on how to target investment decisions in a way that both complies with existing regulations (such as they are) and anticipates the future regulatory environment,” said Michael Diaz, Jr., Diaz Reus global managing partner.

And the FAA will not be the only entity involved. Rules governing privacy, insurance, defense of person and property, and products liability are going to have to be taken up by state legislatures and state courts. “Now is the time to start anticipating what those rules are likely to be,” said Diaz. “That’s why we established our practice. That’s where we can add value.”



About Diaz Reus

Diaz, Reus & Targ, LLP (Diaz Reus) is a full-service international law firm offering comprehensive legal services to U.S.-based and international clients around the world. The firm’s global reach extends from its Miami, Fla., headquarters to its international offices strategically located in dynamic markets throughout Latin America, the Middle East, and in Asia and Europe. For more information, visit www.diazreus.com.



Drone Practice Contact: Brant Hadaway


T: 305-375-9220


Diaz Reus & Targ LLP

100 S.E. Second Street, Suite 3400

Miami, FL 33131

Website: www.diazreus.com




Diaz Reus & Targ LLP scored a stunning victory in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York last week on behalf of the government of Venezuela, obtaining complete and final dismissal with prejudice of a suit brought by Smith Rocke Ltd., a purported creditor in the Lehman Bros. bankruptcy.

The case is Smith Rocke, Ltd. v. Republica Vliviariana De Venezuela, No. 12 Cv. 7316 (LGS)., 2014 BL 20749 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 27, 2014).

Smith Rocke’s Allegation

The suit was predicated on Smith Rocke’s allegation that Venezuelan government agencies had expropriated the company’s entitlement to payments from the Lehman Bros. bankruptcy estate worth more than $400 million. In a comprehensive opinion handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Lorna Schofield, the Court soundly rejected all of the Plaintiff’s expropriation and conversion claims, and dismissed the suit with prejudice.

Case Background

Smith Rocke, a BVI company, is controlled by its Venezuelan shareholders who were previously associated with a Venezuelan bank, Banco Canarias, and another affiliated Venezuelan entity, Credican. Both Banco Canarias and Credican were placed into receivership several years ago by Venezuelan banking regulators. Shortly thereafter, Smith Rocke facilitated an unauthorized “assignment” of the right to receive payments from the defunct entities to Smith Rocke, in an effort to gain control of assets valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Regulators are seeking to recover these assets in order to satisfy depositors and creditors of the failed financial institution.

Outcome of This Case

Once the Venezuelan government learned of the diversion of assets by the Smith Rocke shareholders, they notified the Lehman bankruptcy trustee so that no payments from the Lehman estate would be made to them. That action resulted in the filing of this suit by Smith Rocke against our client. The problem for Smith Rocke, of course, is that these shareholders never had a legitimate legal claim to these assets, and now the court has told them so.

The Diaz Reus legal team on this case included partners Chad Purdie, Gary Davidson, Brant Hadaway, Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Diaz, Jr.

See also: Venezuela Sees Lawsuit Dismissed Under FSIA, Rachel Hall, LatinLawyer magazine.


Mario Fabrizio Ormachea, the colonel leading Bolivia’s Anti-Corruption Unit, is being held without bail in Miami, awaiting an October 21 trial period after being arrested in an August 31 Miami FBI sting operation where he attempted to extort $30,000 from former Aerosur Airlines owner and Diaz Reus client, Humberto Roca. (en Español)

Shortly before arriving in Miami, Ormachea contacted Mr. Roca to arrange a meeting where he would offer to dispose of pending Bolivian charges against him and charge someone else, going as far as to characterize Mr. Roca’s prosecution for “illegal enrichment” as a politically motivated scheme hatched by the Bolivian President Evo Morales and Vice President Álvaro García Linera, for which there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

Photo credit HACER

Diaz Reus client and former Aerosur Airlines owner Humberto Roca. (Photo: HACER)

Mr. Roca alerted lawyers at Diaz Reus, who advised him to contact the FBI.

The FBI quickly moved in and set up the sting where two meetings between Mr. Roca and Ormachea were audio and video recorded. During the first meeting, Mr. Roca agreed to the terms presented by Ormachea and gave him a $5000 down payment in previously recorded currency provided by the FBI. On the following day, after another $5,000 in recorded currency was accepted by Ormachea in the extortion deal, FBI surveillance teams arrested Ormachea after leaving Roca’s home. (en Español)

Ormachea has pled not guilty to two counts, Foreign Travel in Aid of Racketeering and Attempted Hobbs Act Extortion, for which he could face a maximum of 25 years in jail if found guilty. Meanwhile, new illicit-enrichment charges against Roca that parallel those Ormachea offered to have dismissed have been filed in Boliva on behalf of Aerosur employees.

This is continued proof of Roca’s innocence. His business was taken from him for political reasons, forcing Roca and his family to flee his homeland. We will continue fighting to clear his name and recover the losses from the Bolivian government’s illegal expropriation of Roca’s assets.



Are You Too Busy To Be A Good Parent?

August 14, 2013 Commentary

The ongoing custody battle between R&B singer Usher and his ex-wife, Tameka Foster, highlights the challenges that busy parents face today. It is already hard enough for two parents to manage busy professional schedules and still make time for their children. It is even harder when the parents are divorced. Last Friday, an Atlanta judge […]

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High-Stakes Divorce: Litigating Against the 800-Pound Gorilla

August 13, 2013 HIgh-Stakes Family Law

On a hot summer day, a swarm of lawyers files into a courtroom at the Lawson E. Thomas Courthouse Center in downtown Miami. The judge looks up from the bench, a weary expression on his face. This is one of the most contentious cases on his docket, if not the courthouse. There is no love […]

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Florida Appellate Court Reverses Certification of a Class Action Against a Cemetery

August 8, 2013 Class Action

Class actions are usually won or lost at the class certification phase, when the court determines whether the case can in fact proceed on a class basis. In part guided by legislation that has sought to reign in class action abuse, and in part out of a desire to protect their limited resources from the headache of administering class actions, courts have become more particular about what types of claims will be amenable to class relief. Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal has just entered a ruling that illustrates some of the difficulties with certifying class actions.

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Are trains “safe enough?” Why no seat belts?

August 2, 2013 Commentary

I just returned from a trip to Belgium and France—this just a week or so before the latest spate of train derailments (in Spain first, followed by Switzerland). As lawyers, we are always looking for ways to help clients avoid undue risk and these two catastrophic accidents crystallized thoughts that I had during my trip. […]

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August 1, 2013 China

Have you wondered what it would be like to receive deliveries by drone?  In China, it’s already happening:  A private bakery in Shanghai began using small, four-rotor drones to deliver cakes to its customers. The cake delivery service has been at least temporarily halted pending a regulatory review.  After all, using the airspace over a […]

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You’ll Want to Keep Your Money

July 30, 2013 Anti-Money Laundering

You might be aware that financial institutions are required to report deposits of $10,000 or more by filing what is called a “Currency Transaction Report,” or CTR.  What you might not know is that it is that making multiple deposits of less than $10,000, in multiple accounts, in order to avoid the CTR reporting threshold, […]

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Why wouldn’t a California resident be entitled to prosecute a lawsuit against Florida companies in Florida?

June 27, 2013 Latin America

The question seems simple enough.  But it took an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court to find the answer – an answer that will have a significant impact on the rights of U.S. litigants in lawsuits that have some relationship to events occurring abroad. The case began when a California resident booked a family vacation […]

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