Thrusday, December 31, 1998

Comair near end of crash lawsuits

25th out of 29 plaintiffs settles

The Associated Press

        DETROIT — Lawsuits from the crash of a Comair commuter airplane that killed 29 people while en route from Cincinnati to Detroit may be nearing an end.

        The family of a General Motors Corp. engineer, Charles Wansedel of suburban Detroit, became the 25th of 29 plaintiffs to settle with Comair and Embraer, the Detroit News reported Wednesday. Embraer made the Brazilian-built, twin-engine EMB-120 plane that crashed.

        All 26 passengers and three crew members died when Comair Flight 3272 crashed Jan. 9, 1997, about 20 miles south of Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The flight originated at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

        Mr. Wansedel's family settled its suit late Monday after negotiations in the chambers of U.S. District Judge John Feikens, the paper reported.

        The settlement was sealed, and the parties aren't allowed to discuss it. But the attorneys involved told the newspaper that the amount is more than Comair's initial $1 million offer.

        Several attorneys in the case say the settlements of all lawsuits will total about $100 million, depending on how the four remaining cases turn out, the newspaper reported.

        “This is the hardest time of the year,” said Mr. Wansedel's mother, Vada, who put flowers on her son's grave on Christmas. “But I'm glad the case has come to an end.”

        A telephone message was left Wednesday for Comair spokeswoman Meghan Glynn.

        As the litigation nears an end, Judge Feikens issued an order Nov. 30 giving safety investigators access to a sealed deposition that could shed more light on the cause of the crash.

        The deposition is from David Sweet, head of research and development for B.F. Goodrich, the Richfield, Ohio-based company that makes and designs the de-icing rubber boots for most commercial aircraft. Mr. Sweet worked extensively with Embraer.

        Safety board spokesman Ted Lopatkiewicz said investigators are reviewing the deposition and others to gather information about structural icing.

Special Coverage: Crash of Flight 3272

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