Negligence 'substantial factor' in Comair crash

AP News
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Posted: Dec 18, 2009 3:49 PM

A federal judge has ruled the negligence of two pilots who took off on the wrong runway was a "substantial factor" in the August 2006 crash of a Comair regional jet in Kentucky.

U.S. District Judge Karl Forester ruled Thursday in Lexington in a case brought by the family of Bryan Keith Woodward, a passenger on the plane.

The ruling now leaves a jury to decide if Comair _ a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, Inc. _ committed acts of gross negligence warranting punitive damages.

Flight 5191 crashed after trying to take off from a runway too short for commercial jets. Forty-nine people died. The National Transportation Safety Board found the pilots failed to notice clues they were on the wrong runway.

Punitive damages would be on top of the $7.1 million in compensation and $750,000 for pain and suffering a jury already awarded Woodward's family.