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.