Crash of Flight 5191

Comair gives list of passengers, avoids contempt citation

After a Fayette judge threatened to hold Comair in contempt of court, the airline yesterday provided contact information for relatives of Flight 5191 victims.

Fayette Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine had sharply criticized Cincinnati-based Comair in a morning hearing for giving her “the colossal run-around” by not releasing the information. She set a 2 p.m. deadline yesterday for the regional carrier to produce names and addresses of victims’ families.

After Comair provided the data on a CD, Goodwine said the airline was in compliance with her order.

Goodwine wanted the relatives’ contact information so she can give adequate notification to families that the Blue Grass Airport runway will be available for inspection Sept. 27. Attorneys for some families had asked to inspect the runway for lawsuits filed since the Aug. 27 crash, which killed 49 of 50 people on board.

Goodwine said the names and addresses will not be made public.

At one point in a morning hearing, Goodwine said she was inclined to call in Comair’s president and ask him to show her just cause “why they should not be held in contempt” for failure to comply with a court order. Goodwine said Comair had referred her to other entities, including the National Transportation Safety Board, that might have the contact information.

But, she said, “they have been an effort in futility.”

“It is absolutely unimaginable nobody has this information,” she said.

Comair attorney Ron Green said the information it has was obtained through its family-assistance program under the assurance it would not be used in litigation. He also said that Comair thought it was cooperating by providing the references.

“I apologize for the misunderstanding,” he said.

A Comair spokeswoman later said the company’s privacy policy prohibits it from releasing such information without court order. Once the order was entered the information was swiftly provided, spokeswoman Kate Marx said.

But Goodwine said she offered to provide a court order for the information Friday.

Marx could not explain the reason for the delay.

Airport board chairman Bernard Lovely said that, if the inspection had been delayed, the airport would have had to postpone taxiway construction until at least the spring. The construction already has been delayed pending the inspection.

He denied any suggestion that safety reasons gave the project urgency. He said the airport needs to stay on schedule to comply with contractor agreements.

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