Aug. 25--DENVER -- A judge Friday ordered the preservation and protection of the corporate jet that crashed in 2005 near Pueblo Memorial Airport, killing eight persons.
U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Craig Shaffer also ordered the preservation and protection of the airplane's cockpit voice recorder tape.
He issued the orders at the joint request of the litigants in two lawsuits filed by widows of two of the eight victims. The jet wreckage and the tape are evidence.
The widows are suing Cessna Aircraft Co., maker of the plane; Martinair Inc., the Virginia company that operated the plane; Goodrich Corp., maker of de-icing equipment for Cessna planes; and the federal government, which employed the air traffic controllers who were on duty at the airport.
The wreckage of the jet is being stored in a locked facility at an aircraft service company in Greeley. The tape is in the custody of an attorney for Circuit City Stores Inc., which had staff aboard the plane.
The plane, en route from Richmond, Va., to Orange County, Calif., was preparing to stop in Pueblo for fuel when it crashed Feb. 16, 2005, about five miles east of the airport.
The widows, Trudie Iskowitz, and Patricia Coffman, allege the plane and its de-icing system were defective, and that Martinair's crew and the controllers were negligent.
In court filings:
Cessna alleges the crash "was caused by negligence of the flight crew and others over whom Cessna had no control."
Goodrich contends its system was not responsible, and cited a National Transportation Safety Board report that "the probable cause of this accident was the flight crew's failure to effectively monitor and maintain air speed and comply with procedures for de-ice boot activation."
Martinair denies it or its employees were negligent or responsible for the crash.
The federal government denies the traffic controllers were negligent, and contends the court does not have jurisdiction over allegations the controllers were negligent "in performing discretionary functions."
The widows together are seeking damages in an unspecified amount of more than $30 million.
A trial has been set to begin May 15, 2009.
Shaffer's order Friday restricts the ways the litigants may have access to the wreckage and to the tape.
In a separate case, another widow from the crash, Nina Winston, is suing Circuit City Stores, Cessna and Martinair.
Circuit City and Martinair contend the crash "resulted solely from an Act of God, unavoidable accident or sudden emergency." Cessna contends the pilot and first officer may have been at fault.
No trial date has been set for Winston's lawsuit.
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