Comair Settles Two Crash Suits

Apr. 28 -- Comair has settled a lawsuit with the estates of two more victims of Flight 5191. The terms of the agreement reached between Comair and the estates of Bobbie Sue and Jesse Benton are confidential, said Kate Marx, a spokeswoman for the airline.

The Bentons, who lived in Lincoln County, were on their way to Aruba to celebrate Bobbie Sue's 50th birthday when their flight took off from the wrong runway at Blue Grass Airport on August 27, killing them and 47 others on board.

The letter notifying U.S. District Judge Karl Forester of the settlements was filed Thursday in Lexington. The settlements are the third and fourth reached by Comair. After the Aug. 27 crash, 29 lawsuits were filed on behalf of 38 passengers.

In a separate case, the federal government responded to a lawsuit Comair filed against it, saying the government is not responsible for the crash.

Comair sued the government last fall, asking that it contribute to the settlements made with families. The airline argued that the government was responsible because the Federal Aviation Administration violated its own policy by having only one air traffic controller on duty the morning of the crash.

The controller had had only two hours of sleep and did not see Comair Flight 5191 taxi to the wrong runway.

The government argued yesterday that it was not negligent since the controller gave the pilots the correct runway number and checked that no other planes would be on the runway.

In addition, the government said, the runway the pilots used didn't have lights and was half the width of the other runway.

"Neither of the professional Airline Transport-rated pilots operating Flight 5191 noticed that they had not taxied to the correct runway," the filing said.

Marx declined to comment on the government's response, saying the case would be worked out in the courts.

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