Personal Injury

Last unresolved lawsuit from Continental Flight 3407 crash headed to trial

airplane propeller Last unresolved lawsuit from Continental Flight 3407 crash headed to trialOne wrongful death lawsuit stemming from the crash of Continental Airlines Flight 3407 in Clarence Center, New York, has not been resolved, and the case appears to be headed to trial in the coming months.

Flight 3407 crashed on Feb. 12, 2009, as the twin-turbo prop airplane was making its final approach to Buffalo Niagara International Airport. The crash killed all 49 people aboard the airplane and one person on the ground — 61-year-old Doug Wielinski, who was at home with his wife and daughter when the airplane hit his house.

It’s the Wielinski family’s lawsuit that remains unresolved out of 42 suits filed in connection with the crash.

Last month, Continental filed a motion to be removed as a defendant from the Wielinski lawsuit, which also seeks damages from Colgan Air and Pinnacle Airline Corp., which operated Flight 3407 under codeshare agreements with Continental. New York State Supreme Court judge Frederick Marshall denied the motion.

Last week, attorneys for Continental and the other defendants asked Judge Marhsall to put Mr. Wielinski’s daughter Jill (Wielinski) Hohl through another deposition saying they didn’t receive all of the medical records in time for the original deposition.

Judge Marshall declined that motion as well, saying that the plaintiff had already been through enough litigation and stating that “we need to get this matter to trial.”

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigated the crash, finding that the captain’s inappropriate response to the airplane’s stick shaker led to an aerodynamic stall from which the plane could not recover. Investigators also determined that the flight crew failed to monitor air speed, adhere to sterile cockpit procedures, effectively manage the flight, and other missteps that contributed to the crash.

The NTSB report also found issues with flight crew monitoring failures, pilot professionalism, fatigue, remedial training, airspeed selection training, stall recovery training, and pilot record-keeping, among other procedures.

The crash of Flight 3407 cast a spotlight on working conditions for pilots who fly smaller commuter jets. In addition to piloting commuter flights, Flight 3407 first officer Rebecca Shaw also worked part-time in a Seattle coffee shop, lived with her mother and father, slept on crew lounge couches, and commuted from Seattle to New Jersey for her job while Continental paid her just $16,000 per year.

Investigations also focused on how much training and experience Captain Marvin Renslow had and whether he was competent enough to pull the airplane out of a stall that he likely caused by allowing the plane to fly at a dangerously slow speed.


The Buffalo News
National Transportation Safety Board