Continental Connection Flight 3407 crashed in February 2009 in Clarence Center. The crash resulted in the death of Douglas C. Wielinski when the plane crashed into his home. All 49 people on board the plane also died. According to Buffalo News, “more than 40 lawsuits were filed after the crash; all except the Wielinski suits have been settled.”
The Wielinskis’s suit named Colgan Air, which owned and operated the aircraft, Pinnacle Airlines, Colgan Air’s parent company, and Continental Airlines, which had contracted with Colgan as defendants in the case.
Continental Airlines claims that Colgan was an independant contractor and therefore Continental “is not responsible for the independent contractor’s actions.” However, the judge noted exceptions to the general rule regarding the independent contractor “that a party who retains an independent contractor is not liable for the contractor’s negligent acts.”
A former field investigator at the NTSB claimed when Continental selected Colgan to operate flights, Continental failed to make sure that “its standard of care for training flight crews and conducting flights was met.” The agent also said that Colgan pilots did not receive training “on how to respond to the activation of the stall warning on a Bombadier Dash 8 Q400 aircraft like the one that crashed when the pilot failed to respond correctly.” That failed response is cited as the reason for the crash.
While the argument could be made either way for Continental Arilines’ liability in the case, Supreme Court Justice Frederick J. Marshall said that the questions would “require a jury determination as to whether Continental negligently selected and/or supervised Colgan.”
The pretrial hearing is scheduled for Thursday and jury selection was to begin on Monday, but was postponed for a settlement conference.
The Lambert Firm has represented pilots, passengers, and the survivors of passenger‑victims in aviation-related personal injury and death claims for fixed wing aircraft and helicopter operations. If you or a loved one has been injured in any type of commercial or private plane crash, helicopter accident or other aviation accident, contact an experienced New Orleans aviation accident attorney at The Lambert Firm today.