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Comair 5191 Crash Legal Case - A Proud moment for the Lawyers

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Comair 5191 Crash Legal Case - A Proud moment for the Lawyers

Old 25th Jan 2008, 22:25
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Comair 5191 Crash Legal Case - A Proud moment for the Lawyers

The lawyer representing the Co-Pilot of Comair 5191, the sole survivor of the August 2006 crash following a take off on the wrong runway, has claimed in the defense case that the passengers who died were partially to blame for their own deaths. His logic is that because there was media coverage of the runway construction work, the understaffing of ATC, the increased safety record of other airports in the area and the dangers of operating in the dark, there was a case of "contributory negligence" on their part - ie. they should have known better than to get on the plane. Once the defense assertion became public knowledge on Thursday. the lawyer is said to have withdrawn the claim.

Clearly the Defense Attorney has the job of getting his client the most favorable result, but it appears a line has been crossed on this case.

The article is here;


The Defense assertion was:

The decedent should have been aware of the dangerous conditions at the Bluegrass Airport on the morning of August 27, 2006, in that there had been considerable media coverage about the necessity of improving runway conditions at the airport. In addition it was well known that construction was ongoing at the airport which contributed to the dangerous condition existing at the airport, including the likelihood of the construction project leading to confusion about the appropriate runway for takeoffs and landings. Further, it was well known through media publications that the tower was understaffed by the FAA. The airports located in Jefferson and Boone Counties, Kentucky are in close proximity and known to be much safer for use. The defendant (sic) was aware that the take off would occur during hours of darkness thereby increasing the dangerous condition.
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Old 25th Jan 2008, 22:53
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That's Comair's attorney. Sick, ain't it....

EDIT - no it's not - I just read the article.

Why does the F/O have his own defense attorney? Isn't Comair liable under vicarious liability for its employee?
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Old 25th Jan 2008, 22:54
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Read the rest of the article. Said moron lawyer withdrew the affirmative defense before it went on record. Consider it the flatus of a professional in another field who thinks he knows something about aviation. Pprune, thankfully, is free of such phenomena, but Ppruners should be aware that such people exist.

In this case, the professional accused realized he screwed up big time, and aborted before any real damage was done. Magari.
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Old 26th Jan 2008, 04:44
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The legal equivalent of 'go around and stabilise ready for another shot'
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Old 26th Jan 2008, 06:15
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Whilst having little sympathy for lawyers, in a strange way I empathise with the point that people are to some degree responsible for the outcome of taking risks.

Whether it is reasonable to expect a passenger to be able to evaluate an airport as being dangerous is an entirely different matter, but poodles and microwaves spring to mind as an abstract demonstration of the principles.

IMHO, there are too many cases built on people refusing to take any liability at all for their actions and demanding total compensation via the courts.
Old 26th Jan 2008, 14:35
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This lawyer must be on a different planet from all "normal thinking" people. For him to have even suggested such a thing is (a) Beyond belief (b) Sick and (c) Demonstrates the levels that some "professionals" will lower themselves to in order to "win".

I hope he feels ashamed. He should be forced to meet the dead relatives face to face and offer his opinion on their reckless actions. How stupid of them to puchase a ticket on an FAA certified airline in the most developed country in the world. What were they thinking?

He only withdrew his comment because of the reaction. Like MP's only "express regret" when they get caught

There is no honour anymore. We live in a "$crew you" world - "Victory" no matter what the cost.

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Old 26th Jan 2008, 18:29
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Lawyer here.

Having read the article my only comment is that the guy was desperate to fill up the defence papers with something.
The title of this thread includes the phrase "A proud moment for the lawyers" - it certainly was for the plaintiff's lawyers, in the nicest possible way they said "b*ll*cks".
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Old 26th Jan 2008, 21:49
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In most airliners there is a thing called a ballistic cockpit door between doomed passengers and the controls.

Somehow I don't thing pressing "stewardess call" would have impressed the urgency from row 12.
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Old 27th Jan 2008, 08:21
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Agreed, F3G, but surely there's a line to be drawn?

Absolutely and I am not supporting the lawyer in this particular instance, it is b*lls as another poster said.

In this case, as a PPL, I would not considered departing on the wrong runway to be a high probability risk (SOPS, ATC, 2 crew cross checking etc) and I am meant to have a little more insight than joe public , so the lawyers point was clearly ridiculous.

Just talking at the abstract level and I agree with you that there is a balance - its just I felt, rightly or wrongly, the balance in general had tended to swing too far in one direction and people oftne do not take any responsibility for their decisions.
Old 27th Jan 2008, 17:04
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Putting this up as a defense at this point in a civil proceeding simply allows them to bring the issue up at a later point in the proceeding. If it had not been offered, it could not have been brought up at a later time. That may be what the attorney was doing here.

Disclosure... I am not a lawyer and do not play one on TV either!
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Old 27th Jan 2008, 21:13
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Was he a lawyer or an advocate?

As i understand it, it is the lawyer's responsibility to advocate his clients position in court.

Maybe it is a proud moment for the aviation professionals everywhere.

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Old 28th Jan 2008, 11:48
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Many jurisdictions require lawyers to act, at all times, in the best interests of their client. This may be enshrined in law (or delegated regulation). Here in the UK, the Solicitors Regulatory Authority requires that a solicitor act in the best interests of the client. The instant case is taking place in the US, many states do not have a divide between solicitor and advocate functions so the same person could be both, but the idea of always acting in the best interests of the client probably also stands.

That said, the English SRA also requires solicitors to manage conflicts of interests and to uphold the best interests of the profession, as officers of the court. This line was pulled before being put to trial which indicates this trial's jurisdiction probably works a similar way.

So this lawyer is simply doing their job. Any of us, if facing jail time or a hefty fine, would want our lawyers to pull out all stops to ensure whatever comes our way is as little as possible. Same here.

Think of it this way - a pilot does something which whilst logical at the time they did it, is (strictly speaking) against some law; so they're getting done for it (for example, getting done because someone broke their ankle during an evac, following a false fire alarm). That pilot would be pretty narky if, during his/her stretch, discovers some loophole which, whilst ludicrous on its face, could've got them off. We'd certainly be reading "damned useless lawyers" posts about it here on PPRuNe.
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