Thanks for the excellent newsletter.  Just a comment re: Garage door integration.
    It would seem logical that if you simply install a device (relay) to simulate a human pushing the garage door control button that is operated remotely, you have not changed or modified the approved / designed operation of the GDO.  It would still operate 100% as designed and manufactured with all included safety features as of the date of manufacture.   Any reasonable person (Jury) would understand that.  In addition, any reasonable person that would cause the remote operation command to the GDO to be sent, should realize the inherent liability of their action.  The automatic / timer / programmed operation of a GDO without a direct human command would not, in my opinion, be an acceptable option.  Obviously a disclaimer and release of liability, as well as providing documented information, warnings and training to the user / subscriber would be assets in any claim.
    There is simply no way to avoid litigation-happy plaintiffs nor avoid sheer stupidity, but we can attempt to avoid the claim by reasonable mitigation.
Howard B. Sharpe
Huntington Beach  CA
    The original question posed by Julie Jacobson, CE Pro editor-at-large, concerned failure to comply with latest UL recommendations for remote garage door opening or closing and increased liability.  Julie points out that UL requires that the remote activation device include a secondary entrapment protection device [photoelectric sensor], installed on only a sectional door and have a 5 second audible and visual warning system.  
    Photoelectric sensors have been required for a long time.  Mine routinely go out of alinement and have to be repositioned.  The beam will stop the garage from closing the last 2 or 3 feet from the ground if the beam is broken, presumably by an animal or someone who has fallen across the beam.  But that beam isn't going to be much use if the garage is activated remotely and someone is standing under the door but not breaking the beam.  
    While you are correct that there is no way to avoid litigation, there are ways to reduce the likelihood of getting sued and ways to reduce the likelihood of suffering a loss.  Complying with statutes, manufacturer's recommendations, UL, ETL or other recognized industry guidelines and accepted customs and practices will all serve to reduce risk.  Good customer relations is another good idea, and a strong Agreement covering your work product is another excellent idea, though it won't protect you from injury suffered by non-signatories to the agreement and the indemnity may not be enough to shield you.  
    So it makes sense to install systems and devices using the most updated requirements.  It's easy to believe that our society is more litigious than ever, but keep in mind that our technology is changing faster than ever.  Ideas and products are becoming passé almost as fast as they hit the market.  Just look at the evaluation of the garage door protective devices.  It started with the garage door opener; then a remote to use from the car or close by; then the photoelectric beam.  Now you can tie it in with the security integration system and offer remote control from anywhere in the world.  UL wants not only an audio warning with 5 second delay, but visual warning as well.  Sort of like a fire department's doors opening with the sirens and twirling lights going.  Overly cautious?  Perhaps, but it's not often that we allow new technology to develop with a shield of protection from liability.
    Before you decide to invent, sell or install a better wheel, be sure to assess all the ramifications and potential liability.